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Fall 2003 

mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 

The Anti-Semite Was a Lady: The Paradox of Alma Mahler 

By Rosette K. Charlock 

Inaugural Address 

By Hubie Jones 

Four Minds: Case Studies in the Joy of Learning 

By Maura C. Flannery 

Poetry by 

Katherine Hollander and Miriam O'Neal 

Reflections of Gender: An Exhibition of Drawings by Joan Ryan 

Excerpts from a review by Tony Gengarelly 

The Theater of Hyperrealism: The Political Plays of Harold Pinter 

By Dennis Russell 

Two Drawings 

By William Spezeski 

Blankety-Blank: Or, Bad Language 

By Robert H. Abel 


's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 

FALL 2003 

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 

Editorial Board 

Tony Gengarelly, Managing Editor 
Robert Bence 
Bob Bishoff 
Harold Biotzman 
Sumi Colligan 
Abbot Cutler 
Steve Green 
Bill Montgomery 
Leon Peters 
Meera Tamaya 
Arlene Bouras, Copy Editor 

Advisory Board 

James MacGregor Bums, Professor of history and political science, 
University of Maryland 
Stephen Fix. Professor of English, Williams College 
Thomas Green, Professor of law and history, University of Michigan 
Mary Huber. Carnegie Foundation scholar 
Lea Newman, Professor of English emerita, Massachusetts College of Libera! Arts 
Joseph Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA 

© 2003 The Mind's Eye 
ISSN 1098-0512 

The Mind's Bye, a journal of scholarly and creative work, is published twice 
annually by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. While emphasizing articles 
ol scholarly merit, The Mind's Eye focuses on a general communication of ideas 
of interest to a liberal arts college. We welcome expository essays, including 
reviews, as well as fiction, poetry and art. Please refer to the inside back cover 
for a list of writer's guidelines. 

A yearly subscription to The Mind's Eye is $1 5. Send check or money order 
L0 The Mind's Eye, CIO Bill Montgomery, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 
375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01247. 

Mind's Eye 

FALL 2003 

Editor's File 4 

The Anti-Semite Was a Lady: The Paradox of 
Alma Mahler 

By Roselle K. Chartock 6 

Inaugural Address 

By Hubie Jones 23 

Four Minds: Case Studies in the Joy of Learning 

By Maura C. Flannery 28 

Poetry by 

Katherine Hollander .„, 44 

Miriam O'Neal 45 

Reflections of Gender: An Exhibition of Drawings 
by Joan Ryan 

Excerpts from a review by Tony Gengarelly 46 

The Theater of Hyperrealism: The Political 
Plays of Harold Pinter 

By Dennis Russell 48 

Two Drawings by William Spezeski 58 

Blankety-Blank: Or, Bad Language 

By Robert 11. Abel 60 

Contributors 63 

Editor's File 

This issue of The Mind's Eye features a number of new contributors, 
while it celebrates, as well, another winning essay from the 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Faculty Lecture Series. 
Roselle Charlock, professor of education at MCLA and winner of the 
2003 Faculty Lecture Series Award, takes the reader through a 
fascinating account of the paradoxical life of Alma Mahler in "The 
Anti-Semite Was a Lady." Hubie Jones, senior fellow emeritus at the 
McCormack institute, Boston, celebrates the investiture of MCLA 
president Mary Grant with an Inaugural Address that admonishes us 
to create a learning academy with a soul, one that provides a culture 
of caring and meets the needs of all its contributing members. In her 
article "Four Minds; Case Studies in the Joy of Learning," Maura 
Flannery, professor of biology at St, John's University, where she is 
director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, recognizes the careers 
of four education role models, whose intellectual curiosity and passion 
for learning took them into exciting fieids of inquiry. Dennis Russell, 
associate professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and 
Mass Communication at Arizona State University, discovers his own 
passion in the late plays of Harold Pinter where helpless characters 
thrash about in the maw of contemporary politics. We also welcome 
the poetic contributions of Marlboro College graduate Katherine 
Hollander and UMass Dartmouth professor Miriam O'Neal, and 
appreciate as well the fine artwork of William Spezeski, computer 
science professor at MCLA. Boston artist Joan Ryan's recent exhibition 
at MCLA is highlighted by a selection from Tony Gengarelly's review 
of the show. To round out the issue, Robert Abel entertains us with a 
piece on the creative and humorous aspects of swearing. 

1 am privileged once more to have had the opportunity to manage 
this edition, while our new Managing Editor, Bill Montgomery, is on 
sabbatical. Before I exit "stage right," I would like to thank a number 
of people who have been my inspiration and support over the past 

4 The Mind's Eye 

six years. First, I extend my appreciation to the members of the 
Editorial Board, who have worked diligently and selflessly to assure 
that The Mind's Eye is a journal of quality and intellectual integrity. I 
am proud now to rejoin the Editorial Board and look forward to 
working with them and with Bill to build an even more successful 
journal in the future. Second, I am grateful to the Advisory Board, to 
those who have lent their names and time in support of our endeavors. 
I would also like to thank especially Arlene Bouras, our indefatigable 
Copy Editor, who has contributed to our enterprise her considerable 
expertise. I extend a similar thank you to the journal's secretary, Karen 
DeOrdio, who takes care of special arrangements for the Editorial 
Board and supervises the Authors' Reception and the journal's 
distribution. And a final note of gratitude for Leon Peters, the Mind's 
Eye layout designer, whose extraordinary abilities add an extra degree 
of professionalism to our efforts. 

Tony Gengarelly 
Managing Editor 

The Mind's Eye 5 

The Anti-Semite Was 
a Lady: The Paradox of 
Alma Mahler 


Ima Mahler Gropius Werfel (1879-1964), a woman whose 

life spanned the greater pan of the 20th century in both fin- 

Ade-siecle Vienna and the United States, was at different times 
married to two Jewish men and involved with dozens of others, many 
of them well known for their creative genius. This fact does not on the 
surface appear to be unusual but becomes paradoxical when her life- 
long anti-Semitic attitudes come to light. 

This article explores how Mahler's anti-Jewish beliefs and atti- 
tudes developed and how she was able to reconcile her prejudices 
with her adoration of men who often became the targets of those preju- 
dices. Accessing material related to her life and attitudes can also be 
helpful in understanding the origins ol anti-Semitism in general, which 
afflicts and has afflicted people from other times and places who, while 
counting individual Jews aiming their closest friends and allies — as 
did Alma — were, nevertheless, rabid anti-Semites. 

6 The Mind's Eye 

Rbsellt K. Charlock 

In fact, one such person was a young Adolph Hitler, who, be- 
tween the years 1906 and 191i, lived in Vienna and ironically sup- 
ported Alma's famous husband, conductor and director of the Vienna 
Opera, Gustav Mahler, at a time when pan-Germanists were trying to 
oust him from his post because he was a Jew, albeit one who had 
converted to Christianity. While Hitler was acquiring knowledge about 
the powerful political uses of anti-Semitic rhetoric from Viennese poli- 
ticians that eventually led to his murderous version of anti-Semitism, 
it is Alma's more common brand that reveals how such attitudes, when 
embedded in the very fabric of a society, whether in Vienna or else- 
where, can lead to the unleashing of destructive forces, These lessons 
remain important today no matter who the targets of intolerance. 

With its connections to 20th-century European history, to the psy- 
chology of anti-Semitism and to the world of music and the arts, this 
research about the paradox of Alma Mahler's life is a model for future 
teachers of the kind of interdisciplinary curriculum they themselves 
might develop and integrate into their teaching. 

Biographical Sketch 

In order to understand the thesis of this article, a biographical sketch 
of Alma's life can be useful in providing the context and time frame 
within which her paradoxical relationships took place. (I'll refer to 
her as Alma so as to distinguish her from Gustav Mahler, her Hrsl 

The woman who became "the most beautiful girl in Vienna" and 
who achieved fame because of her involvement with so many ge- 
niuses, was born Alma Schindler in 1879, the daughter of Vienna land- 
scape painter Emil Jakob Schindler (1842-1892) and his wife Anna 
Sofie Bergen (1857-1938), an actress. Anna's affair in 188 1 produced 
for two-year-old Alma a half sister, Crete. 

Alma, surrounded by privilege and comfort, studied art, piano and 
composing as a young woman in the midst of fin-de-siecle Vienna, a 
time of social and political turmoil but also a time of great intellectual 
and creative activity. Innovators in music, art, literature, philosophy, 
economics and architecture, as well as psychoanalysis, broke their ties 
to the traditional perspectives of 19th-century liberal culture in which 
they had been reared (Schorskexvlii). Gustav Klimt (1862-1 91 8), 17 

The Mind 's Eye 7 

Rosrfk K. Charlock 

years Alma's senior and one of the most brilliant Jugendstil (new style) 
painters of the Secessionist movement, which he cofounded, used to 
be in and out of her parents' house and stole from her her very first 
kiss, while Jewish composer Alexander von Zemlinsky (1.871-1942), 
her composing tutor, became her first lover in 1897. (Through him 
she met other composition students, including Arnold Schoenbcrg, 
who eventually radically redefined musical composition and with 
whom she remained friends for half a century.) 

When Alma was only 13, her lather died. With his death in 1892, 
according to biographer Susanne Keegan, Alma, distraught at this loss, 
was determined to find a heroic model to replace him (Keegan 8). 

Alma's mother married Schindler's student and long-term assis- 
tant, Carl Moll, and in 1899, Alma acquired another half sister and the 
family moved into a huge villa, Hohe Warte, designed by one of the 
most innovative architects of the time, Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956). 

In 1901, Alma met and fell in love with Gustav Mahler (1860- 
1911) and caused a sensation when, in 1902 — 22 and pregnant — she 
married the distinguished Jewish composer and conductor, 20 years 
her senior. At the time, he was director uf the Vienna Opera, the most 
powerful position in the Vienna music scene and one he had assumed 
in 1897 only after converting to Catholicism. Alma had to give up her 
own artistic aspirations as a composer when she married Mahler. There 
was room for only one composer; her role, as far as Mahler was con- 
cerned, was to be that of loving companion. (Mahler's baptism did not 
spare him from anti-Semitic German nationaiists, who, eight years 
later, acted to remove him from his position; and he was subjected to 
sporadic eruptions of anti-Semitic prejudice that possibly sprang from 
"a peculiarly Viennese mixture of parochial jealousy, monetary envy 
and dislike of the unfamiliar" [Keegan 73]). 

Alma bore Mahler two children, Maria Anna, or Putzi (1902- 
1907), who, at the age of five, died of scarlet fever and diphtheria, and 
Anna Justina, or Gucki (1904-1988), who became a famous sculp- 
tress and whose fifth husband, Albrecht Joseph, a writer and secretary 
to Franz Werfel, was a significant source lor Alma's biographers on the 
subject of her anti-Semitism. Mahler became aware of his acute heart 
condition not long after Putzi's death. Added to these two afflictions 

8 The Mind's Eye 

Roselk K. Charwck 

was the anti-Semitism that led to his conducting at the Vienna Opera 
(or the last time in 1907 and the beginning of his engagement at the 
Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he and Alma would live for 
three or four months at a time. !n autumn 1909, Mahler became the 
chief conductor of the Philharmonic Society of New York. 

In 1910, after eight years of a challenging marriage, Alma sought 
treatment at the thermal health spa of Tobelbard, and there met a 
handsome young architect, Walter Gropius (1883-1969), who, as part 
of the Bauhaus movement, later had a major impact on modern ar- 
chitecture. Their affair prompted an encounter between a devastated 
and impotent Mahler and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who sup- 
posedly said to Mahler, "Your age, of which you are so much afraid, is 
precisely what attracts your young wife." And, indeed, later in her life 
Alma confirmed that "I . . . was always searching for the short, stocky, 
wise, superior man I had known and loved in my father" (Mahler- 
Werfel, Bridge 54) . Mahler's four-hour meeting with Freud at the Dutch 
spa of Leyden supposedly was successful: Mahler recovered his po- 
tency, and the marriage was a happy one until his death a year later 
on May 18, 1911. 

Alma retreated after Mahler's death and did not appear in public 
again until six months later to see Bruno Walter, Mahler's protege, con- 
duct the premiere of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde ( The Song of the Earth) 
in Mu nich. During that year she had met biologist Paul Kammerer, who, 
though married, fell in love with her. And her friend Joseph Fraenkel, 
the well-known neurologist, proposed marriage, At the same time, her 
relationship with Gropius cooled, albeit temporarily. 

In 1912, just a year after Mahler's death, 33-year-old Alma be- 
came involved with painter Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), seven years 
younger than she and "enfant terrible" of the Vienna art scene. The 
passionate affaiT lasted three years, until 1915. Though she loved him, 
Kokoschka 's behavior frightened her. For example, he was so intensely 
jealous that he forbade her to expose her neck or wrists in public or 
cross her legs (Weidinger 7) and was infuriated when, without telling 
him, she aborted their child. Apart from the countless paintings and 
drawings that testify to their anguished relationship, there was a life- 
size doll, a faithful reproductinn of Alma down to the most intimate 

The Mind's Eye 9 

Roselle K Charlock 

details, which Kokoschka had made to console himself for the loss of 
his lover. The painting that best represented their affair was The Bride 
of the Wind, or The Tempest, which showed the two naked and whirling 
in space. (A biography of AJma came out in 1991 with the same title 
and then, in 2001, a movie based on the biography.) 

Alma's next marriage, four years after Mahler's death, was to Walter 
Gropius, and in 1916 she gave birth to a daughter, Manon, who died 
at 19 of poliomyelitis. (Alma and Gropius had separated long before 
that, in 1918, when Manon was only two (Keegan 260). He left Ger- 
many in 1934 and was professor of architecture at Harvard from 1937 
to 1952. They actively corresponded and remained friends once they 
were both in America.) 

In 1918, while still married to Gropius, Alma became pregnant by 
Czech-born, Austrian- Jewish writer-poet Franz Werfel, younger than 
Alma by nine years, who later went on to write The Song of Bernadette 
and The Forty Days ofMusa Dagh. The baby, named Martin, lived only 
10 months. Said Alma about the infant, "The worst thing . , . was the 
uncertainty of whether it was definitely [Franz's] child. ... 1 was not 
absolutely sure" (Diaries January 9, 1.919; Monson 204). It wasn't un- 
til 1 929, 1 1 years later, that Werfel and Alma, then 50, officially mar- 
ried. It was her third marriage. (In the 1930s, while married to Werfel, 
she had an affair with a priest. Professor Johannes Hollnstcincr, whom 
she befriended upon returning to her Catholic faith. Werfel knew about 
it but chose to ignore it.) 

When Austria fell to the German, army, and Werfel's works were 
burned by the Nazis, he and Alma were forced to flee Vienna. In 1 940, 
the Werfels, along with Heinrich Mann, his nephew, Golo Mann, and 
other artists and writers fled by foot over the rugged Pyrenees to Spain, 
ultimately leaving Europe for safety in the United States. They had 
been assisted by Varian Fry, dubbed "the American [Oskar] Schindler," 
a 32-year-old Harvard-educated classicist who was the representative 
of the American Emergency Rescue Committee in Marseilles (Keegan 
278), who helped save the lives of dozens of other musicians, writers 
and artists, including Marc Chagall and Max Ernst. 

The couple settled in Hollywood in 1940, part of a close commu- 
nity of other emigres. While in California, Werfel completed his novel 

10 The Mind's Eye 

Roselk K. Charlock 

TheSongofBemadette, fulfilling the VOW he had made in 1940 in Lourdes 
that if he survived and made a safe escape, he would write a tribute to 
the child whose faith had prompted the miracle that many Catholics 
believe occurred in the French town (Monson 277). 

Like Mahler, Werfel had a weak heart, and after several heart at- 
tacks, died in Los Angeles in 1945, After traveling to Europe, Alma 
decided, in 1952, to move to New York, where she published her au- 
tobiography and enjoyed showing off all of the trophies she had col- 
lected throughout her life: paintings by Oskar Kokoschka, scores of 
Gustav Mahler, manuscripts of Franz Werfel and love letters of Walter 
Gropius. Alma died on December 11, 1964, in Manhattan at the age of 
85 and was buried in the Grinzinger Cemetery in Vienna, with her 
daughter Manon Gropius, her husband Gustav Mahler and their daugh- 
ter, Maria. 

Tom Lehrer, the satirical songwriter and then a Harvard math- 
ematics teacher, said, after reading Alma's obituary, that it was "the 
juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary that has ever been my pleasure to 
read. ... It seemed to me . , , that the story of Alma was the stuff of 
which ballads should be made." So Lehrer immortalized her in a song, 
which concludes with these words: 

And that is the story of Alma, who knew how to receive and 
to give. The body that reached her embalmer was one that 
had known how to live. Alma, tell us, how can they [women] 
help being jealous, Ducks always envy the swans who get 
Gustav and Walter, You never did falter, with Gustav and 
Waller and Franz, (Lehrer) 

The Lady Was an Anti-Semite 

As this brief review of her life reveals. Alma Mahler was not only 
married to two Jewish men, Mahler and Werfel, but also had among 
her many friends and admirers dozens of Jewish men, including von 
Zemlinsky, Fraenkel, Kammerer, Schoenberg, as well as the writer 
Arthur Schnitzler, composer Erich Wolff, writer Stefan Zweigand later 
Erich Korngold and two Mahler proteges, Bruno Walter and Otto 

The paradox lies in the fact that Alma was not really fond of Jews 

The Mind's Eye 11 

Robert H.Abel 

in general. She herself documented those prejudices early on in her 
Diaries, 1898-1902, in which she wrote: "Without me, they [Jews] would 
never have become human beings — and so it has gone with all of them! 
They need help and direction — brains and feelings from us" (Mahler- 
Werfel, Diaries; Monson 165-166); and when her attentions to her 
composing tutor, von Zemiinsky, were initially spurned, wrote: "You 
Jewish sneak, keep your hooked-nose Jew-girl. She's just right for 
you" (Mahler-Werfel, Diaries 381); and then, when further frustrated 
by him in 1901, wrote: "And yet he's thinking of giving up my lesson- 
time to one of his friends. If so, I shall abandon my studies. Let myself 
go — get married! But not . . . [to] some Semitic moneybag" (429); and 
in 1900. on hearing music by Carl Goldmark (1830-1915): "His music 
is too Jewish for my taste" (281); and despite even young Hitler's 
praise of Mahler's interpretation of Wagner, Alma insisted, "No Jew 
can understand Wagner." Later on her son-in-law, Albrecht Joseph, 
reported that she made the following remarks in her Hollywood home 
in the 1940s: "The Allies . . . were weaklings and degenerates, the 
Germans, including Hitler, supermen"; and "the humanistic liberal 
cause is lost . . . [and] the blond beast will triumph"; and "the Nazis, 
after all, have done a great many praiseworthy things"; and "one should 
not believe all one hears about concentration camps" (Keegan 288). 
Perhaps even more bizarre was Alma's view of her own daughter, Anna 
Mahler, as racially tainted. 

What accounts for Alma's lifelong distaste for Jews and "Jewish- 
ness" when, at the same time, she surrounded herself with them? The 
explanation for her anti-Semitism is perhaps quite obvious when one 
considers Vienna at the turn of the century and the anti-Semitism that 
prevailed then (and some would say now). Fin-de-siecle Vienna was 
not only a time of innovative artistic expression and beauty but also a 
time of rising nationalism among the kingdoms that the Hapsburg 
family had ruled for centuries. In addition, while the Austro-Hun- 
garian Empire was slowly disintegrating, the most popular politicians 
in Vienna were attracting the masses with their anti-Semitic rheto- 
ric. The times were bitter, and the times were sweet, and it was in this 
environment that Alma's character was formed. 

12 The Mind's Eye 

Robert H. Abel 

Vienna and Anti-Semitism 

The first documentation of a Jewish presence in Vienna dates 
around a.d. 906, and throughout the later centuries their status went 
back and forth from tolerance to repression to banishment to toler- 
ance to full citizenship rights under the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 
f 867 . As a result of these civil rights and improving economic chances, 
Jews moved to Vienna in large waves. Vienna's Jewish population 
grew from 2,2 percent of the city's population to 8 percent, i47,000, 
by the turn of the century (Funke 40). "Feeling beleaguered by this 
ever-growing Jewish presence, Austrian gentiles . . . made anxious 
jokes, pleaded for the assimilation of the 'alien' invaders, or . , . issued 
strident calls for their expulsion." With the emancipation of Jews afl 
across Europe came a new kind of anti-Semitism. Once referred to as 
arrogant, God's chosen people and Christ killer, the Jew now became 
the "unscrupulous speculator and corrosive cosmopolitan." In his bi- 
ography of Freud, Peter Gay notes that "Naturally enough, children 
echoed their parents, and anti- Jewish talk overflowed from public 
demagogy and famiiy prejudices into the daily banter of schoolmates" 
(Gay 20). 

Emperor Franz Joseph — dubbed Judenkaiier because of his sup- 
port for religious tolerance — was himself at a loss at the continuing 
flood of anti-Semitism. His daughter, Marie Valerie, recurded in her 
diary: "We talked about hatred and Pa said, 'Yes, yes, of course we do 
everything we can to protect the Jews, but who really is not an anti- 
Semite'" (Hamann 331)? 

Nevertheless, at the same time, Jewish prominence rose in the life 
of Viennese culture. Jews became publishers, editors, journalists, gal- 
lery owners, theatrical and musical promoters, poets, novelists, con- 
ductors, musicians, painters, scientists, philosophers and historians. 
'"Since the Austrian aristocracy had no truck with such pursuits, they 
were left to a few nonconformists — and to Jews'" (Jakob Wassermann, 
qtd. in Gay 21). Jews also made careers in the bureaucracy of the 
Hapsburg monarchy and in its army largely after converting to Ca- 
tholicism, though some achieved high ranks without baptism. 

While hatred of Jews was a constant during the golden years of 
fin-de-siecle Vienna, it did not become threatening until the appear- 

The Mind's Eye 13 

Roselk K. Charlock 

ance of racial anti-Semitism, whose believers would accept nothing 
less than removal of all Jews as opposed to acceptance with conver- 
sion. Among the racial anti-Semites was a successful politician, Georg 
von Schonerer, who adapted German ideas on ethnicity to create a 
party advocating anti-Semitism and pan-Germanism. His followers 
were vocal and violent. On one occasion, for example, during the cel- 
ebration of the emperor's birthday in 1 888, pan-Germanists surrounded 
the emperor's coach, shouting, "Down with Habsburg. . . . Down with 
Austria! Down with the Jews! Long live Germany" (Morton 62)! 

Von Schonerer set the stage for another opportunist, Karl Lueger, 
the "political chemist" whose election as mayor was based on his abil- 
ity to fuse the elements of Catholic and lower-middle-class social dis- 
affection into the Jew-baiting Christian Social Party (Schorske 143). 
(Lueger, to this day, continues to be an honored mayor of Vienna.) 

Pro-Lueger newspapers railed against t he Jewish presence and cari- 
catured and stereotyped Jews in cartoons, articles and editorials, while 
in the more extremist pan-German press in 1908 a cartoon even at- 
tacked Lueger because he accepted Jews who had converted. Schonerer, 
on the other hand, had drilled into his followers: "Concerning the 
Jews, a Jew remains a Jew whether he is baptized or not." Seeing 
Judaism as a racial rather than religious issue also came to distinguish 
Hitler's ideology (Rothschild 18). A young Adolph Hitler had come 
from Upper Austria to Vienna in 1 906 and would ultimately seize and 
embellish Schonerer's and Lueger's ideas, even though, while in Vienna, 
he had had many Jewish friends; and most of the people who pur- 
chased his paintings were Jews (Hamann 349, 356). 

ft was also upon the undercurrents of anti-Semitism that play- 
wright and journalist Theodor Herzl realized that his dream of Jewish 
dignity through assimilation was not to be (Schorske 183). He would 
lead the Zionist movement, a new exodus, and bring persecuted Jews, 
especially those eastern European Jews who were being prevented 
from sharing in the Enlightenment, to the Promised Land. But he would 
do so with an ironic twist. Wrote historian Schorske, "The materials 
out of which [Herzl] framed [his mission) were those of the non-Jew- 
ish liberal culture which ... he had adopted as his own" (147). Herzl 
wanted to change Zionism's image from "messy ghetto zealotry" to 

14 The Mind's Eye 

Boselle K. Charlock 

one of respectability. In line with that purpose he declared that the 
delegates to the First Zionist Congress in 1897 were to wear formal 
attire, top hats and tailcoats, for the benefit of the reporters and cam- 
eras. According to Frederic Morton, Herzl led his people toward 
Jerusalem with a nearly "Christian lordliness taught him by his very 
self -disdain as a Jew in SchSnerer's and Lueger's Vienna" (307). Such 
self-disdain characterized many of Vienna's Jews and so, too, other 
victims of prejudice, who, in order to survive and prosper, often took 
on the attitudes of their oppressors. When Mahler, for example, re- 
ferred to Alma's ringlets as "the Jewish hair-do" and asked her to change 
it, was he any different from those African -Americans of the 1950s 
and '60s who believed that straightening their hair might make them 
more like the majority and thus more acceptable? The self-disdain 
that developed among Jews in tum-of-the-century Vienna may also 
help explain why Mahler and Werfel chose to love Alma despite her 

The Paradox 

The anti-Semitism that saturated the environment of fin-de-siecie 
Vienna was contagious and clearly Afma fell victim to the poison. But 
the question still remains as to why such attitudes and beliefs did not 
then prevent her from marrying two Jewish men and counting Jews 
among her closest friends and lovers. There are two possible explana- 
tions for her attraction to Jews, Mahler and Werfel in particular. 

Joshua Sobol, a prolific Israeli playwright and director, portrayed 
the motives behind Alma's attraction to creative Jewish men despite 
her anti-Semitism in a polydrama. Alma, that he produced in 1996, a 
polydrama being a new form of theatrical experience in which scenes 
are performed simultaneously on several floors and in many rooms of 
a building, while viewers choose where to travel on their "theatrical 
journey. ... I am speculating here," writes Sobol, "but I think that she 
felt that the Jewish spirit at that moment in history was probably very 
much alive and ... that Jewish young artists or writers were given the 
freedom to join the European society in the German cultural circle. 
And the urge to join ... in that, culture made them extremely cre- 
ative" and thus attractive to Alma (Sobol). 

The Mind's Bye 15 

RoseUe K. Chanock 

Sobol suspects that Alma picked her male partners according to 
their talent and their potential for expressing the spirit of an age. He 
labels Alma "one of the monsters of our time" because of her over- 
sized ambition"; and in his production he puts emphasis on "her 
pushing and manipulating Werfel to become greater than Thomas 
Mann. . . . Mahler she did not have to push, because he was push- 
ing himself hard enough." (Because of the size of Mahler's ambition, Sobol 
calls him a monster as well.) "But," he continues, "1 think that's what she 
liked about him . . . that he had this enormous engine pushing him to 
achieve." She wanted to be there when these people were taking off, 

going into the sky tike shooting stars, all that makes of her an 
expression of the spirit of our century, where ambition has 
no limits ... it is that kind of almost human megalomania. 
And I think that Alma was a megalomaniac. (Sobol) 

An explanation for Alma's attraction to Mahler and Werfel may 
also have had to do with the fact that they were not, as Alma might 
have put it, "too Jewish." Both men grew up on the borderland be- 
tween Judaism and Christianity. Alma wrote about Mahler's strong 
leaning to Catholic mysticism, "whereas Jewish ritual had never meant 
anything to him." But at the same time she notes that Mahler never 
denied his Jewish origin. "Rather, he emphasized it. He was a believer 
in Christianity, a Christian-Jew, and he paid the penalty" [enforced 
retirement as director of the Vienna Opera] ( (Mahler- Werfei, Mahler 
90). Interestingly, Leonard Bernstein, himself a world-famous con- 
ductor and composer, applauded what he saw as this Jewish-Christian 
dichotomy in Mahler's music and referred to Mahler as "double-man" 
and his music as "East -West," the eastern influence reflecting his Jew- 
ish roots and the western, the Christian influence (Bernstein 208- 
226, 255-264). 

In her autobiography, Alma commented about her Christian- 
paganism and how skeptical she was of religion while Mahler, she said, 
"truly believed in Christ" and "fierceiy combated" her agnosticism, the 
result being the "curious paradox of a Jew championing Christ against a 
Christian" (Mahler- Werfel, Bridge ' 27-28). Nevertheless, Mahler's bap- 
tism was never considered a religious move bttt, rather, a utilitarian one 
intended to qualify him as director of the Vienna Opera. 

16 The Mind's Eye 

Roselle K. Charlock 

Werfel, on the other hand, decided against conversion but played 
with the idea of bringing together modern Christianity and Judaism 
through his writings, in which he hoped in some way to magnify "the 
divisive mystery of man in a way . . . not confined to followers of any 
one Church" (Keegan 286). Werfel spoke at length about his beliefs 
after the publication of his book The Song of Bernadette. Asked by the 
Archbishop of New Orleans how a Jew could have penetrated so deeply 
into the heart of the Catholic faith and not been affected by the cen- 
tral tenet of its creed, the belief in miracles, he replied by saying that 
he had always felt close to the mysteries of Christianity and held the faith 
of its believers in the greatest respect; but he could not take the decisive 
step toward conversion because, among other reasons, he thought that 
in such times it might look as il he were seeking some personal advan- 
tage by denying that he belonged to "an unfortunate cruelly perse- 
cuted minority." He went on to say that "'the Catholic Church, through 
its long history, but also in the present time, had played an active roie 
in this persecution of the Jews, and had never seriously regretted and 
denounced such activities'" (Werfef, qtd. in Keegan 286). Werfel would 
likely have been horrified if he had known that Alma posthumously 
tried to have him baptized, he, among all ol her Jewish men, who had 
been the most outspoken about his Judaism. 

When she was caught in her stereotypical thinking by a more ra- 
tional being, Alma, like many bigots, always had a way of justifying 
her prejudice. For example,, Albrecht Joseph, Alma's son-in-law and 
secretary to Werfel when they were living in California, described one 
afternoon when— while Fran/, was resting —Alma invited him to join 
her for a drink. Joseph declined — he did not drink in the afternoon. 
Said Alma, "Oh, yes, of course, you are a Jew." That led him to list the 
Jews who did drink in the afternoons, evenings, even the mornings. 
"At this friendly protestation, Alma laughed, 'She felt that her remarks 
about Jews were different from others.' She was speaking, after all, 
about a large group, not about individuals" (Monson 293). Gordon 
Allport, the late Harvard psychologist known for his penetrating study 
of the origins and nature of prejudice, explains this device, which says: 
"'I have no quarrel with Jews as an individual but only with what his 
race represents in the mass." The device represents, according to 
Allport, "an extreme instance of confusion — the 'group fallacy' at its 

The Mind 's Eye 17 

Roselle K. Charlock 

worst. ... It admits that one cannot dislike the individual, but main- 
tains . . . that one can and should somehow dislike the group. This is 
the essence of overcategorization" {Allport 319). 

Alma's version of anti-Semitism may also be an example of what 
Allport calls bifurcation; that is, one can still believe that there is an 
evil Jewish "essence," even if this essence permeates only part of the 
group (Allport 319). She could rationalize or justify her prejudice by 
making a few exceptions but holding the remaining portion of the 
category intact. 

Some insights into Alma's lifelong anti-Semitism — even while mar- 
ried to two Jewish men — can also be found in Allport's psychological 
theories. Rancor can mask fear and frustration, and Alma suffered 
from both. Her fear of a loss of affection may have begun when Alma, 
at the tender age of two, acquired a stepsister, and then may have 
increased when she was 1 3 with the loss of the artistic father sh e adored. 
With his death, Alma's fear may have become so embedded that what- 
ever man came into her life — to replace her father — she would con- 
tinue to harbor the fear that he, too, might leave her. Fear of such loss, 
according to Allport, is often expressed in the form of aggression (331), 
and in Alma's case may have taken the form of the anti-Semitic atti- 
tudes and remarks that she displaced onto an innocent group that 
included among its members people she loved. 

Further, one of Alma's frustrations developed as a result of the 
marriage to Mahler, who had forbidden her to continue her musical 
career. Alma's artistic goals were stifled; she feared that her composi- 
tions would never be performed and that she would never again have 
the chance to create. It should also be noted that as Alma sought rec- 
ognition for her own talents, the sexist attitudes of her time likely 
added to those frustrations. Again Allport explains the role that fear 
and frustration play in the development of prejudice. He notes that 
one's fear may be caused by a mounting residue of inner feelings of 
weakness in dealing with the hazards of the outer world: 

Time and again the sufferer may have failed to win in his 
encounter with life. ... He is afraid of his own ineffectiveness 
and grows suspicious of other people whose greater compe- 
tence he regards as a threat. (346) 

18 The Mind's Eye 

Roselle K. Charlock 

Alma's own words confirm this theory of her situation and behavior: 

During the early years of our married life I felt very uncertain of 
myself in my relations with my husband. ... He looked down 
on me [and] sometimes lie played the part of a schoolmaster, 
relentlessly strict and unjust, (Mahler- Werfel, Mahler 40) 

And later Alma admits that 

f suffered more and more from a torturing sense of inferiority. 
Often I had to affect a cheerful air with tears ready to burst 
from my eyes. I could have found in my music a complete cure 
for this state of things, but he had forbidden it . . . and now I 
dragged my hundred songs with me wherever I went — like a cof- 
fin into which 1 dared not even look. (Mahler- Werfel, Mahler 70) 

Some (though, not all) people, notes Allport, respond to their fears 
and frustrations with aggression — verbal and otherwise (330). And 
Alma's anti-Semitic outpourings were perhaps the major way in which 
she manifested hers, 

Once they were settled in America, writer Thomas Mann, when 
asked by some of his left-wing friends how he could remain a friend of 
Alma's, was reported to have puzzled seriously for a few moments 
and thought the prublem over, then to have smiled and said, '"She 
gives me partridges to eat, and f like them'" (Joseph, qtd. in Keegan 
289), His answer was as good as any, for Alma's continuing anti- 
Semitism was an absurdity that could only be explained on her own 
terms. The irony was that Alma would have been outraged if anyone 
else had voiced the kind of extreme pro-Nazi sentiments that she had 
voiced in front of Schoenberg and Werfel. Only she, in her privileged 
position as a creature who had moved between two worlds, been 
married to Mahler and Werfel, had Jewish Iriends all her life and still 
claimed anti-Semites among her intimates, could be allowed to ex- 
press what she felt regardless of the sensibilities of those around her. 
Only she could decide who was Jewish (Keegan 289); and she felt 
that she was "entitled to her prejudices" (313). 

Although never a Nazi, Alma was always on the side of a pure- 
fared German against a Jew, but she singled out Jews, like von 
Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Mahler, Werfel and others who fell into her 

The Mind's Eye 19 

Roselle K. Churtock 

highest category of human being — the creative artist — and allowed 
them to become "honorary Gentiles," thus setting them apart from 
the less fortunate members of their race and making them worthy of 
her friendship (Keegan 76, 289). Perhaps the Jewish men who re- 
ceived this special affection felt honored to have been singled out. by 
Alma and loved by her. The extent of their psychological denial, self- 
disdain or swallowed pride is unclear. Perhaps they would have agreed 
with her son-in-law, who, despite knowing her doubts about his be- 
coming her son-in-law (he was a Jew), appreciated Alma's more en- 
dearing qualities, her vitality, her strong though quirky mind, her gentle 
femininity, her generosity with food and drink, her gifts as a pianist 
and the '"infectious, tornado-like force of her spiritual excitation" when 
whirled onto a higher plane by an exceptional musical performance'" 
(Joseph, qtd. in Keegan 505). 


The paradox of Alma Mahler was that she was an anti-Semite and 
also a lady who loved — and could not imagine living without — Jews. 
On the one hand she was endowed with wit, charm, beauty and mu- 
sical talent; on the other, she was fiercely ambitious and anti-Semitic, 
a prejudice that likely resulted from her environment and the fears 
and frustrations she developed during her life. The paradox can per- 
haps best be explained by the comment she once made to Mahler, that 
all she loved in a man was his achievement. Indeed, all of her hus- 
bands had achieved fame in their respective fields; communion with 
such accomplished men appears to have been Alma's ultimate aphro- 
disiac (Keegan 312), and. in addition, as muse to genius, she was also 
rewarded with considerable wealth and status. It appears that Alma 
Mahler "forgave" her husbands and lovers their Jewishness because 
of their genius, and, in turn, they seem to have forgiven her for her 
anti-Semitism because of her beauty, talent and sensuality and the 
way in which she stood by and cared for them. Perhaps both parties 
got what they wanted out of the relationship. Some Jews, however, 
might find that trade-off abhorrent, but the final judgment is up to the 

Whatever rhe verdict, the fact that Alma Mahier-Gropius-Werlel 
was not able to rise above a poisoned environment or to perceive the 

20 The Mind's Eye 

Hostile K. Charlock 

political demagoguery of her time for what it was, could lead one to 
conclude that this paradoxical lady, while, indeed, legendary, was no 


AJiport, Gordon. The Nature of Prejudice. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958. 
Bernstein, Leonard. Findings. New York: Simon, 1993. 
Draughton, Francesca, and Raymond Knapp. "Gustav Mahler 
and the Crisis of Jewish Identity." ECHO 3.2 (Fall 2001). 
Franklin, Peter. The Life of Mahler. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 
Funke, Phyllis Ellen. "Vienna." Hadassah Magazine {November 1995): 39^4. 
Gay, Peter. Freud, a Life for Our Time. New York: Norton, 1988. 
Goldsmith, Martin. The Inextinguishable Symphony. New York: Wiley, 2000. 
Hamann, Brigitte. Hitler's Vienna: "A Dictator's Apprenticeship." New 

York: Oxford UP, 1999. 
Heyworth, Peter. Otto Kkmperer, His Life and Times, 1885-1933. New York: 

Cambridge UP, 1983. 
Joseph, Atbrecht. "Joseph Memoir," typescript memoir of Alma Mahler 

in possession of author Susanne Keegan. 
Keegan, Susanne. The Bride of the Wind. New York: Viking, 1992. 
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1936-1945, Nemesis. New York: Norton, 2000. 
Kubizek, August. The Young Hitler I Knew. Trans, E. V. Anderson. 

Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1954. 
Lehrer, Tom. That Was the Year That Was. Reprise, 1965. 
Mahler- Werfel, Alma. And the Bridge Is Love. London: Hutchinson, 1959. 

. Diaries, 1898-1902. Trans. Anthony Beaumont, Ithaca, NY: 

Cornell UP, 2O00.1 

_, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. Trans. Basil Creighton. 

Seattle: U of Washington P, 1968. 
Monson, Karen. AlmaMahkr, Museto Genius. Boston: Houghton, 1983. 
Morton, Frederic. A Nervous Splendor: "Vienna 1888/1889." London: 
Wiedenfeld, 1979. 

The Mind's Eye 21 

Roselk K. Chartock 

Rothschild, Deborah. Prelude to a Nightmare: "Art, Politics and Hitler's 
Early Years in Vienna, 1906-191 3." Williamstown, MA: Williams 
College Museum of Art, 2002. 

Schorske, Carl E. Fin-de-Sihie Vienna: "Politics and Culture." New York: 
Vintage, 1981. 

Sobol, Joshua. Alma, 
Wagener, Hans. Understanding Franz Werfel. Columbia: U of South Carolina 
P, 1993. 

Weidinger, Alfred, Kokoschka and Alma Mahler. Munich: Prestel, 1996. 

22 The Mind's Eye 

Inaugural Address 


It is my great honor to participate in the inauguration of Dr. Maiy 
K. Grant as your new President. [ am thrilled that the Massachusetts 
College of Liberal Arts and Mary Grant have found each other 
again, This union should flourish in the years ahead. Your challenge 
together is to build an academy that has a soul. Too many institutions 
in our society are soulless, meaning that they lack clarity about their 
core values and, therefore, they gyrate about devoid of compelling 
purpose and are pushed around by prevailing winds. The academy is 
the last place for such a state o( aimlessness. You now have a new 
leader with the vision and ability to help your institution claim and 
enhance its soul. So this morning, I want to talk briefly about the soul 
in the academy. 

Since I am not a theologian, I went to Webster's Dictionary for a 
definition of soul. Here it is: "Soul is the immaterial essence, a nimating 
principle, or actualizing cause of an individual life." I would also like 
to add "of an institution's life." An academy has a soul if most of the 
following conditions exist: 

First of aff, at the core of the institution is a set of unshakable 
values defining the ethical standards and noble ideals for which the 
institution stands. These values pulsate throughout the academy. They 
are palpable. 

The Mind's Eye 21 

Hubie Jones 

Second, a spirit of fairness pervades the institution, actualized by 
the following: 

• Fair allocation of resources throughout the institution 

• Fair exercise of institutional discipline 

• Pair enrollment and employment practices 

• Fair adjudication of transgressions. People mistakes are used as 
an opportunity for learning, not merely for punishment. 

Third, an authentic community exists, where healthy human 
connections are strong, facilitated and nourished by social structures, 
policies, mechanisms and programs. Consequently, the following 
conditions are present: 

• There is a culture of caring exemplified by swift responses to 
and support for members of the academic community who are 
in pain and in need. - 

• Everyone in the academy is a beneficiary of its resources, but 
students are the chief beneficiaries. Particularly, there is an 
institutional commitment to the human growth and develop- 
ment of all members of the academic community. 

• Everyone owns the mission, goals and agenda of the institution 
due to bona fide collaborative planning and decision-making. 

• The community celebrates its successes, traditions and diversity. 

• There are continual efforts to level social stratification and to 
have social integration of the races, ethnic groups and social 

Fourth, the leaders in the academy have earned moral authority 
by virtue of exercising their power and authority through principled 
behavior or practices. 

Finally, there are inspirational leaders at every level in the academy, 
not just at the top. 

This morning, I urge you to aspire and work to have these 
conditions and operational values live at. your institution of higher 
learning so it can have a soul. 

You are an academy that is committed to the liberal arts; that is 
what your name connotes. I urge you to deepen your commitment to 
delivering a liberaf arts education. Too many institutions of higher 
education are driven by the job market. Their priority becomes giving 
their students skills and knowledge demanded by workplaces. A liberal 
arts education is then reduced to irrelevancy. I am not naive: I 

24 The Mind's Eye 

tiub'te Jones 

understand the importance of having a satisfying livelihood and the 
ability to support oneself and one's family at an adequate level. 
However, liberal arts education is education for life in all of its richness 
and its meanings. It shapes human beings who are critical thinkers 
and who understand the values of rigorous inquiry. It assures that 
students are effective in written and oral communication. St provides 
students with knowledge of history— history of the world, our nation 
and our communities. 

Most information coming to us in an ahistorical context is useless. 
Liberal arts provide an appreciation of the arts and culture, because 
"yuur culture will save you." It provides knowledge of the world's 
religions, desperately needed to understand today's global movement 
and politics. Liberal arts assist students in gaining competence in many 
languages in order to effectively function in this increasingly 
multilingual, multicultural world. A liberal arts education provides 
knowledge of economics and of how the conditions of the economy 
either restrict or expand policies and program choices. 

Your mission is to help students know that learning is an aggressive 
act, not a passive one, requiring them to take responsibility for their 
own learning. Liberal arts education helps a student know what is 
worth preserving in a culture or society at all costs. 

Hopefully, students come to also know that they have responsibility 
to be engaged citizens, committed to a life of service to community 
and others. As Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's 
Defense Fund, has said, "Service is the rent we pay for living." A 
college education, through service learning, can help students embrace 
this truth and go out and change the world for the better. 

In short, we are helping young people establish a life rhythm. 
This is the time that they have to figure out how to avoid a state of 
chronic distraction that would undermine their effectiveness. In our 
society with inlormation overload, multitasking held up as a virtue, 
too much working and too little rest and relaxation, we are plagued 
with so much internal noise and disequilibrium that there is not 
enough internal silence for us to listen to our lives and know who we 
are, where we are and where we should be going. Faculty need to 
model a different reality for their students, but admittedly, it is very 
hard to do in this culture, 

The Mind's Eye 25 

Hubie Jones 

Parker Palmer, who writes on leadership and spirituality, has 
offered the following wisdom: "f must listen to my fife and try to 
understand what it is truly about — or my life will never represent 
anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions." 
This is the kind of wisdom that should be infused in a college education. 
Simply put, the value of a liberaf arts education is priceless. This is the 
mission and niche of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. There 
is no need to wander around trying to find your mission; it has already 
found you. i urge you to gladly embrace it. There is no more awesome 
responsibility in a democracy. An academy that is truly committed to 
liberal arts education is our line of delcnse against the corporatization 
or commercialization of higher education. 

Finally, let me talk about your President, your new leader. Mary 
and i served together as senior fellows at the McCormack institute at 
UMass Boston, f got to know her as an intelligent, hardworking and 
compassionate colleague. We became soulmates. As she was finishing 
her doctoral work, we met on many occasions to talk about her career 
trajectory. 1 served as a sounding board and a guide. Our discussions 
did not focus on specific jobs so much as on what Mary cared about, 
the kind of work that had meaning for her, work that was people 
centered and work that was inspiring and that would make a 
difference. In fact, she was talking not about the kind of work that 
you go out and find but about the kind of work that finds you. Mary 
Grant was waiting to be called to important work consistent with her 
humanitarian values and personal mission to make a better world. 
Well, the call came, she gladly answered it, and the rest will be the 
stuff of histury. 

This is not an easy time to lead a college or university in the 
Commonwealth. There are lots of minefields out there through which 
to navigate. However, this is not a time to wallow in despair and feel 
sorry for ourselves. We are now summoned to protect the core values 
and mission of the academy. We are summoned to know what is our 
irreducible bottom line, and to fight like hell not to go below it. That 
said, it will take changes in institutional policies and practices to 
effectively cope with current fiscal realities, because everything outside 
of the graveyard changes. It will require taking strategic action to a 
level never before contemplated. Such a time offers the opportunity 
to create new paradigms that preserve what is treasured and yet 

26 The Mind's Eye 

Hubie Jones 

embraces new thinking and operational practices. Constant renewal 
is an imperative ot institutional life. Academies that, fail tu accept this 
truth court demise or worse. 

I am convinced that in Mary Kathleen Grant you have the leader 
who will bring you to the "promised land," not just because of her 
leadership intelligence but because she will build alliances with 
everyone in your academy, based on respect and trust. That is her 
irreducible bottom line. This is not a lime lor timidity. This is a time to 
go for broke, because your current and future students need the brand 
of liberal arts education that you provide. I wish you the very best as 
you proceed on your passionate journey. 

The Mind's Eye 27 

Four Minds: Case 
Studies in the Joy of 


'n this article I want to introduce you to the work of four people 

who are very important to me, and then discuss what their work 

JLhas to du with teaching, particularly teaching nonraajors' courses, 
where students often don't have much interest in the subject matter. 
The four are all, like myself, biologists, but they are from very different 
fields. George Evelyn Hutchinson was an ecologist, Agnes Arber a bota- 
nist, Homer Smith a physiologist and Hans Zinsser a microbiologist. 
All were prominent researchers; the three men were members of the 
National Academy of Sciences, and Arber was the third woman elected 
to Britain's Royal Society. But it is not their research as such in which 
I am interested, and it is not their discoveries that drew me to them. 
Rather, it is their writings somewhat outside their fields of expertise 
that make them important to me. All four felt the need to move be- 
yond biology, to look at how their research interests linked to history, 
philosophy, art, literature and religion. The passion they brought to 
these explorations is what I find so appealing. They were indeed life- 
long learners, and their work and their lives can tell us a great deal 
about how we can live as passionate learners and also help our stu- 
dents do the same. 

28 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C. Flatmery 

By its nature, scientific knowledge is to a certain extent cumula- 
tive, with each generation of researchers building on the work of past 
generations. This means that the research of people like my four 
becomes less and less cited as the years pass. While their work was 
important to those who came after them, their research becomes over- 
lain with the work of so many others that their contributions are 
obscured. This is not quite the case with their writings outside their 
research areas; their work in history, philosophy and other areas wears 
better. Yes, it, too, becomes dated, but less so, and it retains its value 
longer. Each of my four has written books that are considered clas- 
sics, it is these books that 1 want to focus upon, though like my 
subjects, I feel the need to stray from the topic at hand from lime to 
time in order to put it in context. 

Hans Zinsser 

For lack of a better approach, I will deal with my four chronologi- 
cally, beginning with Hans Zinsser (1878-1940), who came from a 
wealthy German-American family. He went to Columbia University, 
where he originally was drawn to literature, but then found an inter- 
est in biology. He attended Columbia's medical school with the in- 
tention of doing research in bacteriology. After spending a couple of 
years in medical practice, he obtained a research position at Colum- 
bia, and subsequently taught there as well as at Stanford and Harvard, 
where he spent the latter part of his career. Zinsser studied infectious 
diseases such as syphilis and typhus, as well as the body's immune 
response to such infections. He is best known for his work on typhus 
because of the book he wrote on it: Rats, Lice, and History (1935). This 
classic is still in prim and still worth reading, though it is an odd book. 

Zinsser labels Rats a biography of typhus and in the first chapter 
goes into a criticism of psychobiography, which he says he plans to 
avoid in dealing with his subject. This kind ol tongue-in-cheek irony 
and excursion from the main subject is found throughout the book 
and adds to its appeal. The second chapter tackles why someone like 
himself feels the need to wander from his research, and he describes 
the relationship between science and art, in which he includes the art 
of biography. He then goes into a diatribe on the sins of modern po- 
etry, which he loosely ties to the art and science section, though it 
really doesn't fit. It is nonetheless engaging in its wit and acidity. 

The Mind's Eye 29 

Maura C. hlannery 

Zinsser knows his poetry, and he speaks as a poet. For many years, he 
published poetry in The Atlantic Monthly, where in 1 942, after his death, 
a collection of his poems appeared. A glance at these rather tradi- 
tional verses indicates why T. S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein were anath- 
ema 10 him. 

By the third chapter of Rats, which deals with the relationship 
between science and religion, Greek science, the origin of life and 
important advances in biology, the reader is getting used to the fact 
that Zinsser's style is discursive to say the least. Indeed, the topic of 
typhus receives almost no attention until the last third of the book. 
By that time, Zinsser has reviewed the history of infectious disease 
from ancient times and made the case that there is no good evidence 
for the existence of typhus in Europe until the 1 5th century. Along 
the way he has provided a good overview of how important infec- 
tious diseases have been in determining the course of history and has 
had fun describing what ancient texts, many of which he has exam- 
ined, can and cannot tell us about infectious diseases of the past. 
Though he admits that he has little new to offer to the history of the 
field, his presentation to the nonspecialist reveals a tremendous depth 
of knowledge lightly displayed. It's obvious that while Zinsser was 
producing new discoveries about syphilis and typhus, he was also 
ferreting out the knowledge of the past of these and other diseases. 

But Zinsser's interests extended further even than this. He was 
an accomplished violinist and horseman, keeping a stable at the farm 
he and his wife had outside Boston. His other intellectual interests 
are appa ren t in As I Remember Him; The Biography of R. S. I found a copy 
of this book at a library sale; it was considered so undesirable that it 
was in the "free" bin. Never having heard of it, I picked it up simply 
because I recognized Zinsser's name. When f started reading it, I took 
the title at face value, but it soon became apparent that this is a thinly 
disguised autobiography. Like his biography of typhus, it is very dis- 
cursive. He doesn't say much about his personal life, just mentioning 
his wife and children, skipping over his years in medical school and 
his work in France during World War I. While the book is light on 
information, it is heavy on opinion, covering Zinsser's thoughts on ev- 
erything from religion to politics and the development of modern medi- 
cal practice in the United States. Along the way there are countless 
stories on such topics as delivering babies, fighting typhus in Serbia 

30 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C, Flannery 

and talking to college presidents. What is most impressive about the 
book is the range o( Zinsser's interests and the passion and intellec- 
tual depth with which he explored them. Nobel Prize winner John 
Enders was one ol Zinsser's graduate students. After Zinsser's death, 
Enders wrote of having daily lunch with him: "Here, indeed, was a 
liberal education to be gained pleasantly while one dined" (3). Enders 
had begun graduate work hi English literature but was deflected from 
this path because his roommate was a student of Zinsser's, and it was 
Zinsser who reawakened Enders' earlier interest in biology, It is the 
zest Enders obviously felt that Zinsser also transmits in his writings, 
and it is this zest that makes him one of my four. 

Agnes Arber 

The second is Agnes Arber (1879-1960), who I admit is my fa- 
vorite, in part because her philosophical outlook on biology is closest 
to my own and also because I've delved most deeply into her life. 
Arber was a British plant anatomist who did rather traditional work 
on the structure of grasses and related plants. She spent several years 
studying at Cambridge and then received her doctorate from the Uni- 
versity of London in 1906. Three years later she married a Cambridge 
plant paleontologist, Newell Arber, who died in 1918, when their 
only child, Muriel, was just five years old. Aside from fellowships, 
Arber never held an official position at Cambridge University, but she 
lived in Cambridge from the time of her marriage and worked at 
Balfour Laboratory — a Cambridge facility for women researchers and 
science students — until it was closed in 1926 (Packer). Then she set 
up a small laboratory in her home where she did research until the 
beginning of World War II. She produced more than 60 research 
articles and three major works on plant anatomy: Water Plants, Mono- 
cotyledons and The Gramineae. 

Throughout her career, Arber was also interested in the history 
and philosophy of botany. Her first book, published in 1912, before 
any of those on plant morphology, dealt with the history of early 
printed herbals, and it remains a classic reference work in the field. 
Over the years, she also published numerous articles on history and 
philosophy. After the start of World War II, when it became difficult 
to buy supplies and when she had, at the age of 60, to learn to cook 
and housekeep, Arber gave up laboratory research and turned in- 

The Mind's Eye 31 

Maura C. flannery 

stead to more work in history and philosophy. She published The 
Natural Philosophy of Plant Form in 1950. In this book she presented a 
history of the study of plant morphology from the viewpoint of ideal- 
ist philosophy. She focused on Goethe's idea of the leaf as the basic 
unit of plant form, with all other forms being derivative of the leaf. 
She argued for an amended view, with the shoot as the fundamental 

Natural Philosophy, published when Arber was over 70, was con- 
sidered rather odd and away from the mainstream by most botanists, 
particularly because she gave evolution rather short shrift, She couldn't 
see how all the subtle differences among species had adaptive advan- 
tages and thus were the result of natural selection. The book appeared 
just as what is called the evolutionary synthesis was taking hold in 
biology — the idea that genetics and evolutionary biology together 
could provide convincing explanations for species change. Thus, 
Arber's work looked passe. However, this didn't deter her from her 
philosophical investigations, and four years later she published The 
Mind and the Eye: "A Study of the Biologist's Viewpoint," a very read- 
able introduction to the philosophy of biology, 

The Mind and the Eye is my favorite Arber work, and the one I 
discovered first when I was working on my dissertation on the aes- 
thetics of biology. Her thinking attracted me because she argued that 
doing science hears many resemblances to making art. They both in- 
volve creativity and an intuitive sense of tightness. And in the case of 
morphology, they both deal with the visual and its relationship to the 
intellectual. Arber was in a good position to appreciate the ties be- 
tween art and science because of her background in art. Her father, 
Henry Robertson, was an arlist by profession, a competent landscape 
painter. When Arber was just three years old, he began giving her art 
lessons. Watercolors of plants done when she was in her teens indi- 
cate that she had by that time become a skilled artist in her own right, 
and she did almost all the illustrations for her articles and books, some 
portions of which have more illustrations than text. When she writes 
of the connection between mind and eye, between thinking and see- 
ing, and also of the connection between art and science, she writes as 
someone who has not only experienced these connections but has 
thought profoundly about them. 

32 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C. Flannerv 

After The Mind and the Eye, Arber wrote one more book. The Mani- 
fold and the One, published in 1957, when she was 78 years old. This 
has been rightly classified as a book on mysticism (Hauke). Arber's 
mysticism wasn't based on any religious belief but grew out of her 
desire to dig deeply into the essence of plant form. In the preface, she 
writes that from early in life, she was fascinated by the question of 
the relationship between the one and the many, and this is obvious 
in her botanical work. She is always striving to see connections among 
species and among structures, to find the unity in the diversity of 
plant form. This interest led her further and further into philosophy, 
and ultimately into mysticism, as she tried to find answers to funda- 
mental questions about the structure of life. The Manifold and the One 
is hardly a work of science, but reading it provides insights into how 
Arber did science and what underlying assumptions and interests 
guided her work. It is an indication of how fruitful exploration out- 
side one's field can be. 

Homer Smith 

My third favorite, Homer Smith (1895-1962), was also driven by 
a nagging question that came to him early in life. Smith was a renal 
physiologist at New York University Medical School who did much of 
the fundamental work on measuring kidney function. This research 
laid the foundation for later studies that made kidney transplants and 
dialysis possible. Smith's work involved not just human kidney func- 
tion but that of a variety of other species as well. He was particularly 
interested in lungfish, because of a peculiarity of their natural his- 
tory. These freshwater fish have lungs, as their name implies, and 
frequently come to the surface to breathe, since their gills are rather 
rudimentary and don't absorb sufficient oxygen from water. Because 
of the need to surface frequently, lungfish live in shallow waters, 
waiers that often dry up during droughts. The fish have adapted by 
being able to survive several years encased in dried mud. When the 
rains finally return, the fish come out of their torpor and swim away. 

Smith was interested in discovering how lungfish avoided being 
poisoned by body wastes during such periods; obviously there was 
something different about how their kidneys operated. To learn more, 
Smith went to Africa on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1928 and col- 
lected dozens of lungfish, packed them in steel drums tilled with mud 

The Mind's Eye 33 

Maura C. Elannery 

and brought them back to New York. He made a similar trip to New 
Guinea two years later, and it was on the long ocean voyage back 
from there that he wrote Kamongo. which in a subsequent edition 
received the subtitle "The Lungfish and the Padre." This book has 
been described as a work of fiction and philosophy, and it is just that. 
It is a long dialogue on the meaning of life between a biologist named 
Joel, obviously Smith's alter ego, and an Episcopal missionary; it takes 
place on a ship traveling through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to 
the Mediterranean. 

I came upon Kamongo in a used bookstore. I knew of Smith be- 
cause I had been in graduate school at NYU in the 1970s and Smith 
was still spoken of there with reverence. His From Fish to Philosopher, 
on the evolution of the kidney, was considered a must-read, so I did— 
and found it interesting but difficult. When I discovered that Smith 
had written something that was labeled on the cover as a work of 
"fiction and philosophy," [ was surprised. I was even more surprised 
when I started to read it and found it riveting. The novel begins with 
Joel describing the atmosphere of oppressive heat on board the ship; 
it is one of the most sensuously satisfying descriptions I've ever read. 
Admittedly, the dialogue that follows is one-sided, with Joel arguing 
that evolution, and therefore life itself, is without a goal, and the 
padre arguing that this just can't be so, Joel counters by saying the 
only purpose to life is what we choose to give it. In essence, this is a 
book on existentialism, but from a biologist's perspective — with a 
wonderful story about hunting for lungfish, views on our relation- 
ship to apes and a beautiful description of life as a whirlpool of 

Kamongo was a best selfer that was reprinted many times into the 
1960s; it was even chosen for the Pocket Overseas Editions for the 
Armed Forces during World War II, Smith followed it three years later 
with another novel. The End of Illusion, which was not as well re- 
ceived, though it is well written and has a more developed plot and 
more characters than Kamongo. Smith was disappointed with the 
book's reception and turned away from fiction, but not from writing- 
He spent many years researching two books that came out within a 
year of each other. Man and His Gods is a substantial history of the 
relationship between science and religion from prehistoric times to 
the end of the 19th century. More accurately, it is what Smith sees as 

34 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C. Fiannery 

the progressive replacement of religion by science: As science came 
to explain more and more natural phenomena, the need for super- 
natural explanations diminished. 

At the end ol Man and His Gods, Smith presents an autobiographi- 
cal piece titled "The Story of This Book" in which he tells of his family 
background and his upbringing in a small mining town in Colorado. 
His rather idyllic childhood, which he describes in loving detail, con- 
tinued until he was 17 years old. With his lather's impending death 
on his mind, he read headlines about the sinking of the Titanic. This 
got him thinking, and he writes: "I wrestled, in rny own terms, with 
the Meaning of Things. I took a sharp scalpel and took the wrapping 
off life and took a close look at its, ... On that April 15, 1912, 
this book was begun." It can be argued that his other popular works 
were also started on that day, though I don't think Smith ever felt he 
had completely unpacked this issue. While he takes a very material- 
istic and mechanistic view of life and argues persuasively that science 
has supplanted religion, I get the feeling from his writings that deep 
down, he never fully convinced himself of these ideas. That's why 
he had to do more and more research and approach the problem 
from more and more angles — fiction and nonfiction, historical and 

Even his last book. From Fish lo Philosopher, deals in part with his 
mental struggle. Smith presents the development of the vertebrate 
kidney within the evolutionary history of vertebrates, particularly fish, 
since it was in fish that the basic structure and functioning of the 
kidney was laid down. It seems odd that in such a book the last chap- 
ter would be tilled "Consciousness," but Smith's contention is that 
without the elaborate control mechanisms involved in kidney func- 
tion, the internal environment of the body wouldn't be stable enough 
for the proper functioning of a nervous system as sophisticated as 
that in a human. Without the kidney, consciousness — and thus phi- 
losophy — would be impossible, In his discussion of consciousness. 
Smith has a long section on playing the piano, as an example of a skill 
that entails both conscious and unconscious nervous control. He ob- 
viously had fun with this, describing how many notes it's possible to 
play per second. Needless to say, he was an accomplished pianist, and 
his fervor for this art, like his fervor for finding the meaning of life, 
comes through in his writing. 

The Mind's Eye 35 

Maura C. h'hmnery 

George Evelyn Hutchinson 

Evelyn Hutchinson (1903-1991) also had a tremendous fervor, 
but for him it was more diffuse; his interests were legion. For ten 
years during the 1940s and 1950s he wrote a regular column for 
American Scientist, and this allowed him to indulge some of his interests — 
from UFOs to anthropology, from religious rites to natural history. 
By profession, Hutchinson was an ecologist who had left Cambridge 
University for a job in South Africa without bothering to finish his 
doctorate, From there, he went to Yale, where he spent the remain- 
der of his career, He was known for his work on freshwater ecosys- 
tems, for his mathematical approach and for developing the concept 
of niche — the place where an organism lives and what it does there. 
He was also known as a brilliant and kindly teacher who trained some 
of the great minds in 20th-century ecology. 

From the time I took ecology in college, I had heard of Evelyn 
Hutchinson, but I didn't really come to love him until I read his book 
The Itinerant Ivory Tower, and particularly an essay titled "The Gothic 
Attitude to Natural History, " He begins by describing carvings of leaves 
done in the 1 5th century in the chapter house of a monastery in 
Southwell, England. These leaves are so realistic that not only arc 
oak leaves differentiated from those of the maple but the artist even 
clearly distinguished between the two species of native British oak. 
Hutchinson sees in such art the beginnings of modern empirical sci- 
ence and argues, therefore, that the fater Middle Ages were much 
more fruitful scientifically than had been previously assumed. After 
discussing the leaves and their significance, Hutchinson makes an 
abrupt switch in topics, something he often does in his essays. He 
gives a great deal of credit to his readers and assumes that they can 
make the needed linkage — provided it would deprive them of the 
satisfaction of creating it for themselves. In the second part of this 
piece, Hutchinson discusses a contemporary study on three species of 
deer mice and how they live on chaparral terrain east of San Fran- 
cisco. He sees this work as in the tradition of empiricism begun in 
medieval times; ecologists are following in the footsteps of the artists 
of Southwell. 

Another essay in the same collection also attracted me to 
Hutchinson. It was his obituary for the great biologist D'Arcy Thomp- 
son. In a footnote, Hutchinson writes that he met Thompson only once, 

36 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C. Planner/ 

when Thompson visited Yale and they both attended a staff meeting 
at the Osborn Zoological Laboratory. Since it was the birthday of one 
of the professors, someone had sent out for ice cream and "no one 
present is likely to forget the Olympian gusto with which the author 
of On Growth and Form disposed of his portion" (Itinerant 170). I like 
this story because it shows not only Hutchinson's sense of humor but 
also that he saw the importance of information that can only be char- 
acterized as trivial. Mentioning D'Arcy Thompson's eating ice cream 
was Hutchinson's way of saying that even larger-than-life figures in 
science are human beings with all their complexities, inconsistencies 
and foibles. 

One reason Hutchinson's writings are so engaging is that he's a 
master of such details. He has a sense of what woufd be of interest to 
the reader in large part because he knows himself well enough to 
realize what interests him. He seemed to have an insatiable love of 
information and ideas, fn his memoirs, he writes of spending a year 
doing research at the Marine Research Station in Naples and of his 
wanderings in the area. He is fascinated by religious ritual, including 
rites related to Saint Januarius. These center on yearly commemora- 
tions involving the periodic liquefaction of the saint's blood, a relic 
kept in a gold-encrusted glass vial. 

When 1 originally read Hutchinson's memoir more than ten years 
ago, this is the portion of the book that I most remembered. It seemed 
odd to me that he not only had written in such detail of the proces- 
sion and other activities surrounding the veneration of this relic but 
had also done considerable research on the ritual's history. Now, hav- 
ing read many of Hutchinson's essays, I can see that this is very much 
how he approached everything in which he was interested: He plunged 
in and learned as much as he could. His fascination with the blood of 
Saint Januarius is hardly an anomaly; it is just one of dozens of ex- 
amples of how far his mind ranged. He also dug, in the sense of looking 
beneath the surface of ideas. In the introduction to his first collection 
of essays (Itinerant), Hutchinson writes that some of the pieces are 
difficult (and they are) but that one of the joys of intellectual pursuits 
is to work through such difficulty, and he is right. Reading a 
Hutchinson essay may be a challenge, but his messages are worth the 
work — they range from the philosophy of science to the nature of 
human nature. Even his textbook on population ecology is full of 

The Mind's Eye 37 

Maura C. Flatmery 

intellectual challenges and surprises. It is like no other text I know. 
Some pages are literally full of footnotes, where he takes historical 
digressions that he obviously relished writing. I'm not sure this was a 
best seller as a textbook, but it makes a wonderful introduction to the 
intellectual foundations of the field — as well as to the mind of one of 
its greatest students. 

The Message of the Four 

I have written about my four friends for two main reasons. First 
because T find them fascinating people and I want to share my fasci- 
nation with others. This is a habit with me, one that I acquired early 
in life. 1 had parents who loved learning simply for its own sake. My 
mother had a high school education, my father probably didn't finish 
more than ihc fill h or sixth grade, but they both read a lot — my mother 
focusing on literature, including Shakespeare and gossip columns, 
my father on politics and the wonders of technology. But they didn't 
just read, they shared. To them, as to my four, learning was tied to 
telling others about what they learned. The four did it in writing, my 
parents did it in the kitchen and living room. My sister and I always 
knew the latest on who was divorcing whom and were regularly up- 
dated on the sins of the mayor of New York. Neither of us became 
wedding planners or government majors, but we both became teach- 
ers. It was inevitable; our role models were two people who loved to 
learn and loved even more to tell others what they had learned. A 
passion for learning, though perhaps not overtly practical, has served 
me well. I chose a profession where I can indulge it — and a husband 
as well; one of the things that first attracted me to him was his love of 
books. By the standards of former Enron or WorldCom executives, 
we haven't been successful financially, but then again, we haven't 
been indicted, cither. 

Besides wanting to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for these 
people, I also have shared their lives with you because I think they 
can tell us a great deal about how to teach more effectively. It is 
almost a cliche to say that the best teachers are those who have a 
passion for their subject. Such a statement is often made without 
comment, implying that you either have passion or you don't, that it is 
not something to work on, to cultivate. To a certain extent, I can see 
this point. Passion is not something we learn in a book as we can the 

38 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C. Flannery 

concepts of a discipline, but J do think that passion can be nurtured, 
and this is what my four were doing when they moved outside their 
narrow research areas. Yes, they explored out of the passion to know, 
but I think such explorations also fostered that passion. They saw 
such work as fun and the more they did it, the more they wanted to 
continue to do it, and this must have translated into renewed passion 
for their research as well. The virologist Lawrence Kilham provides 
another view of such cross-pollination. He is an avid bird-watcher, so 
avid, in fact, that he has published numerous articles and books in 
ornithology, but this hasn't kept him from being an award-winning 
researcher who developed the measles vaccine. He found that the 
two interests complemented each other nicely. When one of his pur- 
suits was in the doldrums, the other sustained him; the mental re- 
freshment that watching birds provided helped keep his mind open 
to new ideas about viruses. 

My lour biologists obviously shared Kilham's view that there is 
nourishment in wandering from the minutiae of research, though 
their wanderings were in many ways related to their work. It was 
just that they were not afraid to cross disciplinary lines; they had the 
self-assurance that they could master ideas in philosophy and his- 
tory, ideas that gave them a richer view of their own areas of exper- 
tise. They were so passionate about their subjects that they had to 
follow them outside disciplinary borders, to ask how ideas had devel- 
oped, how events of the past had shaped the views of the day; to find 
out what philosophical assumptions lay behind how their fields oper- 
ated. Nor were Smith and Zinsser afraid to go even further and ex- 
press their passion in creative writing. 

Because they were willing to go far afield, the four developed 
novel viewpoints and they dared express them. While Arber's views 
on plant form were not popular at the time she presented them, this 
didn't stop her from elaborating them and writing cogently about 
them. Today, with the new molecular perspective on plant morphol- 
ogy, many of her ideas are coming into vogue. Zinsser's delving into 
the history of infectious disease seems particularly prescient in light 
of our newfound interest in Infection as we continue to be assaulted 
with apparently new infectious agents, just as peoples of the past had 
to deal with such "new" diseases as syphilis and typhus. 

The Mind's Eye 39 

Maura C. Flannery 

While Arber was the only one of the four who did not hold a 
teaching position, they all taught through their writings, and in their 
writings they all linked science to the humanities. They were inter- 
disciplinary scholars, and more. They all had an aesthetic sense of 
what was fascinating, and hunted down interesting ideas and then 
shared them with their readers. They ignored the fact that the aes- 
thetic is often not viewed as important; they weren't afraid of it nor 
afraid to write of it. Arber and Zinsser both wrote explicitly of the rela- 
tionship between art and science, arguing that these pursuits are more 
similar than they appear because they are both deeply creative and 
intellectually challenging. All four were also acting as science critics, 
in the way that Lewis Thomas saw that role, as stepping back from 
the specifics of research and taking a broader view of where science 
fits into human experience. They all valued learning that was acces- 
sible and were passionate about clearly communicating their ideas to 
others. One reason I was drawn to all four is that their writings were 
so understandable. They sometimes deal with difficult concepts or com- 
plex processes, but the reader is never left in any doubt as to what they 
are writing about. 

Infusing Joy into Our Teaching 

We need to keep such role models in mind in our own lives and 
not get so bogged down in teaching and our professional work that 
we forget the joys of knowing that drew us to this profession to begin 
with. But just as importantly, we need to think about how we can 
introduce our students to the passionate pursuit of knowledge. Ad- 
mittedly, this is not easy, and no one knows this better than I do. I 
teach biology to non-science majors, many of whom delight in tell- 
ing me how much they disliked science courses in high school, the 
implication being that they are unlikely to change their minds in col- 
lege. In addition, I teach in my university's college dedicated to ca- 
reer-oriented programs, so my students are focused on their careers 
and not necessarily on making the most of liberal arts core courses. I have 
been doing this for more than 30 years, which makes it easier to under- 
stand why my lour are so important to me: I feed on their passion to 
sustain my own. And I have found that at least sometimes I can commu- 
nicate this passion to my students. 

40 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C. Flannery 

The four didn't laik or write explicitly about love of learning; they 
simply lived their values, which maybe why their example is so pow- 
erful. What makes my four such good writers is that, without getting 
very personal, they put a tremendous amount of themselves and their 
joy into their writing. Even if the periodic liquefaction of the blood of 
Saint Januarius in a reliquary in Naples is not our focus of interest, 
Hutchinson makes us want to read on. And Arber makes her passion 
for unity in multiplicity our passion as she piles up instances of think- 
ers of the past grappling with this paradox. Just telling students that 
there is pleasure in learning is not enough; we have to create situa- 
tions where they experience such pleasure. This does not mean mak- 
ing things easy; it does mean making things engaging and allowing 
our own enthusiasm to come forth. 

For me, getting students to write essays on how biology affects 
their lives — getting them to focus on a single tree in their neighbor- 
hood or an experience with an invertebrate — is one way to help them 
appreciate the affective side of learning. I also show them striking 
images of organisms, cells or molecules; this is particularly easy to do 
now with the Internet available in the classroom. And I do what my 
parents did: share interesting items that I come across in my read- 
ing — a new centipede species discovered in Central Park, of all places, 
or a snake that defecates less than once a year. I do not make the 
mistake that many parents today make in forcing children — or stu- 
dents — to be constantly on the alert for the wonders around them. 
One of the reasons my parents were so successful in imparting their 
values is that they didn't overdo, they didn't appear to work at it; 
they did it for their own pleasure. On the other hand, the joy of learn- 
ing is something students should be made more aware of. When we've 
finished a particularly challenging concept in class, but one that stu- 
dents have mastered, it's a good time to step back and discuss what 
has happened and how they feel about accomplishing something in- 
tellectually, t see this as part of making students more aware of their 
own thinking. While they may never take another science course, 
the feeling of accomplishment they have experienced in studying 
evolution may make them more aware of how wonderful it is to learn 
in other disciplines. The joy of learning definitely can cross over from 
one field to others. 

The Mind's Eye 41 

Maura C. Vlanneiy 

Another way to nourish a zest for learning is by encouraging stu- 
dents to teach one another. Joy in learning is doubled if that joy and 
knowledge are shared with others — and there is a third joy, that of 
reshaping what is learned in order to share it. This means deep enough 
learning to be able to do this reshaping. Exercises in peer teaching 
open students' eyes to how difficult and how rewarding it can be to 
master a subject well enough to teach it. Such pleasure in learning is 
what we have to reintroduce as a focus in higher education if we are 
to be serious about lifelong learning. This concept is often discussed 
in relation to helping people learn new skills so they will continue to 
be successful in the marketplace, but the much more essential reason 
for encouraging lifelong learning is simply the sheer pleasure in learn- 
ing something new, at any age. 

I don't think it's coincidental that for the past 30 years higher 
education has been stressing the practical benefits of a college educa- 
tion in terms of standard of living and that there is now a crisis of 
values in business. We have made money our greatest value and have 
forgotten what got most of us into higher education to begin with — the 
joy of learning. In addition, we have become so caught up with the 
business model of education, so focused on assessment and productiv- 
ity, that we have ignored the aesthetic or affective side of our work, the 
part that is hardest to assess and to put a dollar value on. 

If as we face hard economic times we continue to see success in 
life merely in monetary terms, the depression will be more than just 
economic. Our emphasis on money as the measure of success has 
fueled the greed causing this economic crisis. If academe fails to value 
learning for its own sake, why should society as a whole do so? It is 
time to take up again the values that drove my parents and my four 
scholars. Great work comes out of great passion, and we are depriv- 
ing our culture of a great deal if we don't nurture such passion. 

Works Cited 

Arber, Agnes. The Gramineae: "A Study of Cereal, Bamboo, and Grass." 

Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 19 54. 
. Herbals, Their Origin and Evolution: "A Chapter in the History of 

Botany, 1470-1670." Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1912. 
. The Manifold and the One. London: Murray, 1957. 

42 The Mind's Eye 

Maura C Flannery 

. The Mind and the Eye: " k Study of the Biologist's Standpoint." Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge UP, 1954. 

. Monocotyledons: "A Morphological Study." Cambridge; Cambridge 

UP, 1925. 

. The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form. Cambridge: Cambridge 

UP, 1950. 

. Water Plants: "A Study of Aquatic Angiosperms." Cambridge: 

Cambridge UP, 1920. 

Enders. J. "Mans Zinsser." Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin 15(1, Supple- 
ment 3) 3. 

Hauke, Richard L. Vignettes from the History of Plant Morphology. (accessed 
February 2003). 

Hutchinson, George Evelyn. The Ecological Theater and the Evolutionary Play. 

New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1965, 
. The Enchanted Voyage, and Other Studies. New Haven, CT: Yale 

UP, 1962. 

. An Introduction to Population Ecology. New Haven, CT: Yale 

UP, 1978. 

. The Itinerant Ivory Tower: "Scientific and Literary Essays." New Ha- 
ven, CT: Yale UP, 1953. 

. The Kindly Fruits of the Earth: "Recollections of an Embryo Ecolo- 

gist." New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1979. 

Kilham, Lawrence. On Watching Birds. Chelsea, VT: Chelsea Green, 198S. 

Packer, K. J. "A Laboratory of One's Own: The Life and Works of Agnes 
Arber, F.R.S. (1879-1960)." Notes and Records of the Royal Society 
of London 51: 87-104. 

Smith, Homer W. The End of Illusion. New York: Harper, 1935. 

. From Fish to Philosopher. Boston: Little, Brown, 1953. 

. Kamongo. or The Lungfish and the Padre. New York: Viking, 1 949 . 

. Man and His Gods, Boston: Little, Brown, 1 952. 

Thomas, Lewis. The Youngest Science: "Notes of a Medicine- Watcher." 
New York: Viking, 1983, 

Zinsser, Hans. As I Remember Him, The Biography ofR.S. Boston: Little, 
Brown, 1940. 

. Rats, Lice, and History. Boston: Little, Brown. 1935. 

. Spring, Summer, and Autumn. New York: Knopf, 1942, 

The Mind's Eye 43 

Big Rock Candy Mountain 


Listening to this recording I imagine you 

standing on the clanking metal between the cars 

singing this song to yourself as you piss 

out of the train and into the greenish-black night. 

Oh, the buzzing of the bees and the cigarette trees, 

you croon, lingering over the little streams of alcohol 

that wet this land where the boxcars all are empty 

and the farmers' barns are full of hay, where the bulldogs 

all have rubber teeth and the policemen have wooden legs 

1 think of you washing out your- fragile underwear, your 
disintegrating socks, in a creek, your eyes a little red, 
the battered, hollow-cheeked flask swinging 
in the pocket next to your heart, your cuticles smudged, 
your back shimmering with grime, the short, sharp gold hairs 
thrusting up through the skin of your face; singing mindlessly 
to yourself, knotting snares together from string and the stiff 
straws of the field, hoping for a ground-bird or a squirrel For supper, 
your tongue on the loosening tooth at the back of your mouth. 
And then, under a gray sky like a withered balloon, just beginning 
to spit rain, you lope after the train and swing yourself aboard, 

slumping into the grainy darkness, 

settling yourself among the bags of rice, 

or the toothy machine parts, 

or the bloody sides of meat, 

singing, settling back to chew your cheek 

arid think of me, my hands 

on the soft, floured flesh of biscuit dough, 

nty belly fetching up against the warm 

marble countertop in the kitchen of the rich. 

For John Caakley 

44 The Mind's Eye 



is like sea monkeys 

you buy from ads in Marvels — 

comes dry, needs water. 


getting the paper 
I feel it on my skin 

like the chafe of wind rising, 
or see it whole 

between two blinks — 
an oak leaf struck midspin 

by a mote. 
Sometimes it settles 

like the crows 

in the tamarack in winter 

calling its own name, 
then silent — 


by its own squall. 

The Mind's Eye 45 

Reflections of Gender: An 
Exhibition of Drawings 
by Joan Ryan 

Excerpts from a review by Tony Gengarelly, professor of fine and performing 
arts, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 

r ■ 1 he recent exhibition at the newly renovated Porter Street Gal- 

lery on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus fea- 

1 tured the drawings of Boston artist Joan Ryan. Ms. Ryan, an 
associate professor of drawing, is chair of the Fine Arts and Founda- 
tions departments at the Art Institute of Boston. She has a long, dis- 
tinguished list of gallery venues, and her work, done principally in 
pastel, focuses on the human figure. 

The MCLA exhibition included a number of life-size nudes done 
in sharp contrasting light with a monochromatic range of values that 
broadcasts powerful forms, The strongly crafted full-length figures, as 
well as the torsos and body parts {hands, feet, arms), have a metallic 
texture that suggests suits of armor scattered around the walls. In this 
"medieval" context the sculpturesque shapes assume an almost Ro- 
manesque quality as they play with traditional religious and artistic 
symbols. ... In two . . . frames a male figure is apparently imprisoned 
in what appear to be straps of fabric that extend outside the picture 
[one of these, Holding Pattern, is reproduced here]. We want to recall 
Michelangelo's struggling slaves trying to escape earthly bonds and 
tree the soul from matter. Here, though, we have no glimpse of the 
captive's facial expression but sense, nonetheless, that the male form 
is not writhing in pain but, rather, embraces the cloth binding that 
represents his earthbound state in a kind of private dance. 

46 The Mind's Eye 

Joan Ryan, Holding Pattern, pastel 40" x 42" 

The Mind's Eye 47 

The Theater of 
Hyperrealism: The 
Political Plays of 
Harold Pinter 


Although the works of playwright Harold Pinter — one of the 
most influential and controversial dramatists in the history 
of modern theater — have always resonated with political 
undercurrents, five of his plays from 1984 to 1996 have been overt, 
uncompromising, no-holds-barred explorations of fascistic political 
systems. Those plays — One for the Road (1986), Mountain Language 
(1988), Party Time and The New World Order (1993) and Ashes to Ashes 
( 1 996) — trace the transformation of Pinter into the artist as activist. In 
earlier plays, such as The Birthday Party and The Hothouse, the political 
implications were more metaphorical and enigmatic in nature. But 
Pinter acknowledges that by the early 1 980s. he found himself react- 
ing to the brutality of contemporary existence in ways that were alter- 
ing his writing style. Whereas his earlier plays were "full of games and 
jokes," his plays emerging from the eighties and nineties are "shorter 
and shorter pieces which are more and more brutal and more and 
more overtly naked." As Pinter has observed, "I'm alraid that for me 
the joke Is over" (Gussow 82), 

48 The Mind's Eye 

Dennis Russell 

Each of Pinter's overt political plays is concerned with the system- 
atic oppression ol Lhe individual. At the core of Pinter's preoccupation 
with this theme is his distrust of governmental systems, even demo- 
cratic ones in the United States and his native Britain. He believes that 
millions of people are living lives of intimidation, particularly those 
who have little money and who are dispossessed and disenfranchised 
"by various governmental techniques and tactics" (Gussow 84), For 
Pinter, lying is the central component of most governments, and the 
lies are unwittingly repeated by a lot of the media, fn England, Pinter 
says by way of example, the predominant governmental lie is as fol- 
lows: "You're told that you're a happy man, it's a wonderful society, 
everything is fine. We're told that other people suffer various ills, vari- 
ous oppressions, of which we are free. . . . The actual facts simply do 
not correspond to language used about those facts." According to Pinter, 
a "debased language" permeates English society in which the lie is 
automatic, persuasive and pervasive (85). 

Pinter's explorations with overt political playwriting stemmed, in 
large part, from his long standing concerns with governments' use of 
torture as a weapon of political oppression, as well as the threat of 
nuclear catastrophe (Pinter, Road 12). fn particular, the plight of po- 
litical prisoners facing official acts of torture has captured his atten- 
tion. In 1984, Pinter traveled to Turkey after learning that members of 
the Turkish Peace Association were imprisoned for eight years' hard 
labor for belonging to that movement. Upon investigation of the situ- 
ation, he learned that there are thousands of political prisoners being 
held in Turkish prisons, each day confronting hellish living conditions 
and systematic acts of torture (13). After his visit to Turkey, Pinter met 
two young Turkish women at a party and asked them what they 
thought of the sentences for the members of the Turkish Peace Asso- 
ciation, to which they responded, "Oh, well it was probably deserved. 
Well, they were probably communists. We have to protect ourselves 
against communism." Stunned by the complacent reaction, Pinter asked 
the women if they knew what the conditions were like in Turkish 
military prisons. They shrugged and said, "Well, communists are com- 
munists you know." When he inquired about their opinion of torture, 
they replied, "Oh, you're a man of such imagination" (1 3—14). 

The Mind's Eye 49 

Dennis Russell 

Recounting this story in a May 1985 interview, Pinter said he left 
the party in such a rage that he went home and vented his anger and 
frustration by writing the play One for the Road in a single night. As he 

I feel very strongly that people should know what's going on 
in this world, on all levels. But at the time, when I came back 
from that drinks party, and sal down in the chair and took 
out a piece of paper, 1 had an image in my mind of a man 
with a victim, an interrogator with a victim. And 1 was sim- 
ply investigating what might take place. Given a certain state 
of affairs, what would the attitude of the interrogator to his 
victim be? So I was simply writing the piay. I wasn't thinking 
then of my audience. Having started on the play, letting the 
images and the action develop, 1 did go the whole way to the 
hilt, as far as 1 could. The end result being that the play is 
pretty remorseless. (Pinter, Roadl4—15) 

One for the Road, first performed in England on March 13, 19S4, 
and directed by Pinter, is a study of the abuse of power and authority 
over the powerless. It is a violent, disturbing portrait of political hor- 
ror in which an interrogator known only as Nicolas (played by Alan 
Bates in the original production) torments a tortured prisoner and his 
imprisoned wife and child. The setting is a stark, antiseptic interroga- 
tion room with one window, one interrogation chair and the 
interrogator's desk. Interrogating first a battered -looking 30-year-old 
man called Victor, then his seven-year-old son, Nicky, and his iO-year- 
old wife, Gila, the interrogator Nicolas engages in the language of op- 
pression to belittle their personal moral and political beliefs, and to 
ultimately break their spirits. 

Pinter's concern with the language of oppression reflects the ar- 
gument of Haig Bosmajian, who states that the rhetoric of hate has 
historically been used to subjugate those in society who lack power or 
position. Bosmajian points out that the Nazis defined Jews as "bacilli," 
"parasites," "disease," "demon" and "plague" (6). Similarly, the lan- 
guage of white racism has been used to keep people of color in their 
place, while sexist language has allowed men to define who and what 
a woman is and must be. And labels such as "traitors," "saboteurs" 

50 The Mind's Eye 

Dennis Russell 

and "obscene degenerates" were applied to students protesting the 
war in Vietnam (7). Playing the role of a power- wielder utilizing the 
language of oppression to muzzle oppositional voices during the Viet- 
nam War, Bosmajian writes, "Are such people to be listened to? Con- 
sulted? Argued with? Obviously not! One doesn't listen to, much less 
talk to, traitors and outlaws, sensualists and queers. One only pun- 
ishes them or, as Spiro Agnew suggested in one of his 1 970 speeches, 
there are some dissenters who should be separated 'from our society with 
no more regret than we would feel over discarding rotten apples'" (7). 

Throughout One far the Road, the interrogator flaunts his unbridled 
power over his prisoners, repeatedly underscoring how in j ust the snap 
of a finger he could seal their fates by keeping them imprisoned or 
ordering their executions. In fact, by the end of the play, the interro- 
gator takes uninhibited delight in telling Victor that he and his wife 
are free to go, but that their son has been executed. Although Victor 
and Gila are freed, the killing of their son permanently imprisons the 
couple in a life of torment and despair. Herein lies the shocking truth 
of One for the Road, that those who hold the reins of power, and for 
ideological reasons choose to abuse that power, not only systemati- 
cally violate the powerless in bodily ways but also violate them psy- 
chically and spiritually. Pinter's play is observing, in brutally graphic 
terms, the methods used by fascistic forces to create a numbing, al- 
most surreal world of hopelessness— all in the name ol controlling 
political opponents and silencing oppositional voices. 

Pinter never reveals in One for the Road the offense that Victor and 
his family have committed in the eyes of the state, nor does the audi- 
ence ever learn the country in which the play is set. For Pinter, both are 
beside the point because in the former, it is implied that it is the politi- 
cal ideology of Victor and Gila that is being punished; and in the latter, 
Pinter believes that all countries (even democracies) are capable of 
engaging in acts of violence toward their citizens. As Pinter says in a 
description of One for the Road on the back cover of the Grove Press 
edition of the play: 

One for the Road deals with things that happen in about 90 
countries throughout the world. We have evidence that 90 
governments actually subscribe to torture by police or mili- 

Ths Mind's Eye 51 

Dennis Russell 

tary, whether they say they do or not. One for the Road is an 
expression of a series of events where we are looking at people 
who have been tortured or will be tortured. It's brutally real: 
my earlier plays were perhaps metaphors for states of affairs 
in various respects. This is not a metaphor about anything— 
It's just a brutal series of facts. 

The playwright's position is buttressed by psychologist Ervin Staub's 
examination of group-induced violence and genocide. Staub main- 
tains that rarely is the state's use of official violence directed only at 
people who cause suffering. Instead, its intensity and the circle of its 
victims tend to increase over time. This becomes evident in the history 
of torture. For example, in the Middle Ages, when torture was part of 
the legal system, the circle of victims expanded over lime. Starting 
with low- status members of society accused of a crime, progressively 
higher-status defendants and then witnesses were tortured in order to 
extract evidence from them (Staub 26}. In examining group-related 
acts of violence, such as political torture, as phenomena representing 
human evil, Staub concludes, "Ordinary psychological processes and 
normal, common human motivations and certain basic but not inevi- 
table tendencies in human thought and feeling (such as devaluation 
of others) are the primary sources of evil. Frequently, the perpetra- 
tors' own insecurity and suffering cause them to turn against others 
and begin a process of increasing destructiveness" (26). 

In 198S, Pinter continued his exploration of state -enforced op- 
pression in the play Mountain Language. Also set in an unnamed coun- 
try, it consists of four brief prison scenes. In the first, a group of women 
visitors wait outside all day to see their imprisoned men, savaged by 
guard dogs and humiliated by the military. The play then moves in- 
side the prison for more intimate glimpses of the inhuman regime: the 
prohibition of the prisoners' native language;, a young wife briefly 
encountering the sight of her battered husband; a seemingly endless 
flow of insults directed toward the prisoners and their women: and 
the disturbing scene of an old woman who, finally permitted to speak 
the language outlawed by the state, has nothing left to say. 

First performed in London on October 20, 1 988, and directed by 
Pinter, Mountain Language has further refined the use of language that 

52 The Mind's Eye 

Dennis Russell 

refuses to hide behind the curtain of metaphor, and instead uses lan- 
guage that is raw, coarse, unflinching and as oppressive as a blow to 
the face. As was the case with One for the Road, Pinter in Mountain 
Language is illustrating how words can be used as weapons of oppres- 
sion to control the powerless in society. Yet, in Mountain Language, he 
expands his exploration of tyranny by underscoring how the suppres- 
sion of language and the loss of freedom of expression diminish the 
human spirit (Gussow68). 

Pinter is also clearly using sucb merciless rhetorical devices in 
both plays as a method of shocking the audience into the cold-steel 
recognition of the plight of political prisoners. At the same time, he is 
uncomfortable with interpreting his overt political plays as acts of pro- 
paganda, noting: 

It could be said that One for the Road and Mountain Language 
are more direct statements than other plays. At the same time, 
they're both ... a series of short, sharp, brutal images, which, 
I hope, amount to a play and not a public statement. Writing 
such things might be seen as a political act. (Gussow 70) 

Pinter's next foray into overt political playwriting emerged in the 
form of The New World Order, which was first performed on July 1 9, 1 99 1 , 
in London, with Pinter directing. This short one-act, three-character 
play profiles two interrogators in an unknown regime who call upon 
the language of oppression to break the spirit of a political prisoner. 
The interrogators, Des and Lionel, ceaselessly condemn the unnamed, 
blindfolded prisoner for his questioning of "received ideas" — that is, 
ideas that have been approved by the state. The audience never learns 
which received ideas the prisoner has questioned; all that is known is 
that the prisoner {who never utters a word during the interrogation) 
once taught theology but now is considered to be a threat to the state's 
more repressive vision of "democracy." 

The New World Order, like One for the Road and Mountain language, is 
designed to shock the audience into considering the ugly truth that 
numerous countries throughout the world regularly violate the civil 
rights of their citizens and punish people for ideas that are not sup- 
ported by the state or the majority. The New World Order is not only 
condemning less-civilized. Third World nations for their human rights 

Lite Mind's Eye 53 

Dennis Russell 

violations but also castigating democracies such as England and the 
United States for the curtailment and punishment of controversial, 
unorthodox and nonmainstream expression. 

Pinter's political plays are indictments of governments' using the 
force of law or police-state tactics to intimidate the citizenry into 
silence. For Pinter, the silencing of ideas is antithetical to any true 
notion of a democracy or a civilized society. The enunciation of this 
theme brings to mind Jean-Francois Lyotard's discussion of human 
rights, noting, "Any banishment is a harm inflicted on those who un- 
dergo it, but this harm necessarily changes to a wrong when the vic- 
tim is excluded from the speech community. For the wrong is the 
harm to which the victim cannot testify, since he cannot be heard. 
And this is precisely the case of those to whom the right to speak to 
others is refused" (Shute and Hurley 144). 

Pinter quickly followed The New World Order with a 19 -scene, nine- 
character play tilled Party Time, which was first performed in London 
on October 31, 1991, under Pinter's direction. The play is set during 
an elegant cocktail party attended by the stylish rich, where country 
clubs and summer homes are the talk of the evening. However, out- 
side the expensive apartment are the ominous sounds of helicop- 
ters and sirens, and eventually the talk turns to a sinister military 
presence that is protecting the partygoers from the political turmoil in 
the streets. The nature of the civil strife is the revolt of the have-nots 
of society, attempting to rise up against a privileged class that is indif- 
ferent to their poverty and suffering. 

The partygoers long for "peace" in their society, but a peace that 
requires military-imposed sanctions placed upon the uprisers. As one 
character in Party Time chillingly observes while clenching his fist, 
"We want peace and we're going to get it. But we want that peace to 
be cast iron. No leaks. No draughts. Cast iron. Tight as a drum. That's 
the kind of peace we want and that's the kind of peace we're going to 
get. A cast-iron peace" ( 17). 

Pinter states that Party Time is an examination of actual power, as 
opposed to the ambiguities of power. His purpose was to profile a hier- 
archy of power that would go to any length to preserve that position 
of power, "without any remorse or question whatsoever" (Gussow 

ti the Mind's Eye 

Dennis Russell 

152). Pinter adds, "Party Time is noi a documentary account of parties 
I've actually been to or people I've actually met. It's the image that 
remains of the distinction between what happens upstairs at the party 
and what's going on down there in the street, and that's what inter- 
ested me" (152-153). 

Meanwhile, Pinter's most recent political play. Ashes to Ashes, en- 
compasses themes similar to those of the four previous plays but is 
written in a more enigmatic, rather than confrontational, style. First 
staged in London on September 12, 1996, again under Pinter's direc- 
tion. Ashes to Ashes is a two -character, one-act play set in the living 
room of a house in a suburban university town. Devlin (originally 
played by Stephen Rea) feels threatened by his wife Rebecca's recol- 
lections of an abusive former lover. Devlin relentlessly questions her 
for the full details of this previously undisclosed aspect of her life. But 
the more questions Devlin asks, the more confused he becomes as 
Rebecca's stories of her past intermingle with unnamed political 
atrocities of the world. By the piay's end, the audience, like Devlin, 
is perplexed by the intersection of personal violence and the official 
violence of the state, but Pinter is relating an eerie communion be- 
tween the abused Rebecca and the dead victims of political barbari- 
ties. For Pinter, the wellspring of violence is the abuse of unbridled 
power, be it in the private setting of a domestic relationship or the 
more public arena in which state policy is enacted. Viewing this from 
Staub's psychological perspective, it is the feelings of insecurity, in- 
comprehension and lack of control — due to cultural background, 
personality and life problems — that lead people to seek strength and 
control through the exercise of power over others (Staub 41 ). 

Ultimately, the live overt political plays of Pinter represent a turn- 
ing point in the career of an influential playwright, with the writer 
seeking a language that is as stark, painful and terrifying as his subject 
matter: political torture, political persecution and the indifference of 
the privileged power-holders of society. For Pinter, there are certain 
realities of contemporary existence that artistically compel him to craft 
language that is as crude and savage as the perpetrators of state-sanc- 
tioned violence. From the period of 1984 to 1996, the politicizatlon of 
Pinter is played out in his art, creating a theater of hyperrealism in 

The Mind's Eye 55 

Dennis Russell 

which metaphor and imagery are jettisoned in favor of dialogue de- 
signed to assault the senses and sensibilities of the audience. Whereas 
E. L. Doctorow chose to use heightened language in his 197S play 
Drinks Before Dinner (a work about moral revulsion over the hypocri- 
sies and injustices of modern existence, set at a cocktail party much 
like Party Time), Pinter's political plays call upon a devalued rhetoric 
that serves as a mirror for the way in which numerous governmems 
devalue the worth of human life. 

There is a moral urgency evident in Pinter's political plays, re- 
flected in his assertion that he has no games left to play and no jokes 
left to tell. This moral component recalls John Gardner's observation 
that true art is essentially moral — that is, life-giving — and that "art 
builds; it never stands pat; it destroys only evil" (15). Pinter's political 
plays take a cold, hard, uncompromising look into the eyes of evil, 
and the playwright is asking the audience to hold the stare and not 

According to Staub, the essence of evil is the destruction of hu- 
man beings, which includes not only killing but also creating condi- 
tions that "materially or psychologically destroy or diminish people's 
dignity, happiness, and capacity to fulfill basic material needs" ( 25). 
Clearly, Pinter is confronting his audience with the multiple levels of 
state-imposed evil and, in so doing, is imploring them to shake loose 
the bonds of complacency and moral ambivalence. As political scien- 
tist Murray Edelman has noted, some art helps shape what become 
established political beliefs, while other artistic creations serve as a 
corrective in their challenge to common beliefs and conventional 
worklviews (11-14, 17-21). Pinter's political plays are representative 
of the latter in their confrontational examinations of abusive political 
orthodoxies. Granted, these works offer no clear-cut solutions but, 
instead, serve as warnings or wake-up calls before it's too late. 

56 The Mind's Bye 

Dennis Russell 

Works Cited 

Bosmajian, Haig A. The Language of Oppression. Lanham, MD: UP of 
America, 1983. 

Doctorow, E. L. Drinks Before Dinner. New York: Random, 1978. 
Edelmati, Murray. From Art to Politics: "How Artistic Creations Shape 

Political Conceptions." Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995. 
Gardner, John. On Moral Fiction. New York: Basic, 1978. 
Gussow, Mel. Conversations with Pinter. New York: Grove, 1994. 
Pinter, Harold. Ashes to Ashes. New York: Grove, 1996. 

. Mountain Language. New York: Grove, 1988. 

. One for the Road. New York: Grove, 1 986. 

. Party Time and the New World Order. New York: Grove, 1993. 

Shute, Stephen, and Susan Hurley, eds. On Human Rights: "The Oxford 

Amnesty Lectures 1993." New York: Basic, 1993. 
Staub, Ervin. The Roots of Evil: "The Origins of Genocide and Other 

Group Violence." Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. 

The Mind's Bye 57 

Two Drawings by William Spezeski 

Under the Sink, charcoal 

58 The Mind's Eye 

Teacups, charcoal 

The Mind's Eye 59 

Blankety-Blank: Or, 
Bad Language 


When I was a kid, 1 got my mouth washed out with soap if I 
uttered a curse word in the hearing of my parents. Pre- 
sumably, this action was to make me pure again, perhaps 
purge demons I had invited into my soul, but in reality it only made 
me want to curse all the more, both for the vile taste of the soap and 
for the cruel and unusual punishment I suffered for what was demon- 
strably a minor, and common, offense. So sensitive were my parents to 
what they regarded as "bad language" that my brothers and f were even 
forbidden the use of such words as "gosh," "darn" and even "dang." 
Those were simply bad words in disguise and one could predict from 
then use an easy transition to the sterner stuff. Soaping, however, was 
reserved for the really hard-core offenses, ff our mother was ever moved 
to contemplate the use of bad language — and I'm sure we often gave 
her just cause— she would use the phrase "blankety-blank," One ex- 
ample: "Get that blankety-blank bicycle out of the driveway before your 
dad comes driving in here and runs it over." 1 confess that this supervi- 
sion of our language only made us more desperate to learn and experi- 
ment with the power and obvious magic ot these dark utterances. 

60 The Mind's Eye 

Robert H. Abel 

My mother's father was, in fact, an expert on the use of bad lan- 
guage and an inspiration to my brothers and mc in that, and other, 
respects. Gramps seasoned his talk with forbidden words. Although 
sober when we knew him, he had enjoyed and suffered a considerable 
career in bars, as a trolley car driver, a policeman and a prizefighter. 
These are, of course, all professions in which one has the opportunity to 
exercise a broad range of linguistic resources. By the time we came 
along, Gramps had been comparatively domesticated, except for much 
of his lingo. Now he was confined to farming. We would watch in awe 
as he went about the everyday business of capturing chickens, slitting 
their throats, suspending the fatally wounded things over an old bath- 
tub, then dousing the corpses in a bubbling pot of water, stripping off 
the feathers, burning away the pinfealhers with an awesome blow- 
torch (its steady, demonic roar the background music to this whole 
devilish opera), disemboweling them, giving us a lesson in chicken 
anatomy (stones in gizzards! Did we have gizzards?), then stuffing the 
pink/yellow corpses side by side in a big enamel pan that went into a 
refrigerator right there in the barn, a refrigerator whose sole purpose 
was to serve as a chicken morgue, 

Gramps also, of course, butchered pigs (a much more traumatic 
experience for us) and sheared sheep and shoved the cow around 
when it proved blase to his commands. None of this required a lan- 
guage of refinement. When a flock of ducks rattled out of the bushes 
and impeded Gramps's progress up the driveway, pushing a wheelbar- 
row, say, he did not politely admonish them to make way so he could 
more efficiently conduct his labors. Indeed, this was just the kind of 
occasion that would call forth the kind of invective we boys found so 
liberating, It was curt, businesslike and inventive, and blew the ducks 
and geese out of his way as effectively as a squall. Who, upon seeing 
the effects of this linguistic black magic, would not want to appropri- 
ate it for his or her own uses? Of all the weapons and tools of which 
we were aware and appreciated the use — from shotguns to scythes to 
tractors — none was so readily available for deployment, so free of dan- 
ger to the user {cf. the awesome rototiller) nor so effective in advanc- 
ing the projects of the will. To swear, it seemed to us, was to part the 

Nothing, not even politics, called forth my grandfather's keen ca- 
pacity for vituperation more powerfully than engines. Mowing the 

The Mind's Eye 61 

Robert H. Abel 

lawn that sloped down from the farmhouse to the street was at the 
bottom of my grandfather's list of "chores," and he would happily have 
neglected it altogether except that he got nagged inro it by Grandma, 
who could use a choice phrase of her own now and then, as in: "Ain't 
you ever goin' to mow the damn lawn?" The magic of the bad word 
even worked on my grandfather! But because he was not much inter- 
ested in the lawn, the lawnmower, too, like any self-respecting ma- 
chine, became surly with neglect. Unfortunately lor Gramps, the lawn 
grass was not of the variety that could be whacked into submission 
with his hay cutters or he would have made a couple of quick passes 
with the tractor and be done with it. Alas, lawn grass was of a more 
delicate nature than orchard grass or hay and couldn't be bullied or 
wrestled into compliance with the demands of my grandmother's aes- 
thetics. This required my grandfather first and foremost to get the 
lawnmower running right, and this In turn apparently required him 
to bring forth from the depths of his soul the most atomic-powered of 
his oaths. 

One of the treats our grandmother lavished on us boys when wc 
visited was "soda pop." The only time we had carbonated beverages to 
drink at home was when one or another of us got the flu or was recov- 
ering from an appendectomy or tonsillectomy. Even then, the choice 
was limited to ginger ale and ginger ale only. At our grandparents' home 
we were introduced to such splendid vintages as root beer, orange soda, 
even cola. We quickly became connoisseurs, and t, for one, decided 1 
would never again touch cream soda in this life, unless handsomely 
bribed. My youngest brother, lor his part, rather fancied cherry soda, 
which he was welcome to, as far as the rest o( us were concerned. 

Now, it is true that I have many, many fond memories of my Ohio 
boyhood (and awful ones, of course, since Ohio is no different from 
the rest of the world in that respect), but among the most warming of 
them would surely be this: . 

My brothers and 1 sittingin the sunshine on the porch steps, swill- 
ing a soda pop, belching, our noses tingling, and Gramps a scant ten 
feet away trying to coerce a lawnmower into proper behavior with a 
truly mind-boggling thunderstorm of those beautiful bad words. 

62 The Mind's Eye 


Robert Abel has published numerous collections of stories and several 
novels. Ghost Traps won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction 
in f 989. Riding a Tiger, published in Hong Kong in 2000, reflects Abel's 
connection to the Orient. He has taught writing and American 
literature in China and has worked as a specialist for the United States 
Information Agency, giving lectures and workshops to English teachers 
in Southeast Asia. 

Roselle K. Chartock is a professor of education at Massachusetts 
College of Liberal Arts. She coedited the anthology Can It Happen Again? 
"Chronicles of the Holocaust" (1995), and the second edition of her 
text Educational Foundations: "An Anthology" (Prentice Hall) appeared 
in 2003. Her public-access television program, Conversations in 
Education, continues to be broadcast monthly throughout Berkshire 

Maura C. Flannery has taught biology at St. John's University in 
New York for 32 years. She also serves as director of the university's 
Center for Teaching and Learning. Interested in the intersection of 
biology and aesthetics, she is the author of Bitten by the Biology Bug 
and writes a monthly column for The American Biology Teacher. She 
was a 2000-2001 Carnegie Scholar, and her latest book is D'Arcy 
Thompson's Ice Cream and Other Essays from Biology Today 

Tony Gengarelly is a professor of art history and museum studies at 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He has published numerous 
articles and books, including a 1 989 catalog, The Prmdergasts and the 
Arts and Crafts Movement, and a 1 996 monograph, Distinguished Dissenters 
and Opposition to the 191 9-1 920 Red Scare. His most recent book, written 
with his students at MCLA, is Randy Trahold's Northern Berkshire County, 
published in 2003 

The Mind's Eye 63 

Katherine Hollander lives in Ilhaca, New York. Her poem "The Ice 
Storm" was a finalist for Glimmer Train's semiannual poetry open, 
Her work can be found in Potash Hill: "The Magazine of Marlboro 
College" and is forthcoming in The Marlboro Review. 

Hubie Jones recently retired from UMass Boston after serving as a 
senior fellow at the McCormack Institute and as a Special Assistant to 
the Chancellor for Urban Affairs. Jones helped organize the Forum 
for the 2 1st Century and founded the Massachusetts Advocacy Center. 
He has made frequent appearances on Boston tefevision, particularly 
as a panelist on WCVB's public-affairs discussion show Five on Five. 

Miriam O'Neal teaches writing at UMass Dartmouth. Her poems 
and reviews have appeared in Agni, The Marlboro Review and Southern 
Poetry Review. She was a 2000 finalist in the Massachusetts Cultural 
Council Grants Competition in Poetry. 

Dennis Russell is an associate professor in the Walter Cronkite School 
of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, 
where he specializes in mass-mediated popular culture and film, 
literary and music analysis. Russell has published articles in Popular 
Culture Review, Studies in Popular Culture, The Mid-Atlantic Almanack, 
Southwestern Mass Communication Journal and Communications and 
the Law. 

William Spezeski teaches computer science and information systems 
at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He is the author of Logo: Models 
and Methods for Problem Solving. When time permits, he uses charcoal 
and oil paint to capture everyday objects and scenes from nature. 

64 The Mind's Eye 

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